One of artist Jenna Sutela's regular collaborators, Physarum polycephalum, is often referred to as a natural computer. This yellow, "many-headed" slime mold is an ancient, decentralized, autonomous organism that processes data without a nervous system, operating via communities of coordinated nuclei that demonstrate advanced spatial intelligence. If the slime mold cannot find the resources it needs, it hibernates until better conditions arise; theoretically, it is immortal. Over the years, Sutela has, for example, ingested the slime mold in her performances as a form of artificial intelligence, letting its hive-like behavior program her own.
Sutela's work for Samara reactivates this line of work, delivering co-existence with the slime mold to people's homes in the form of a dried sample of Physarum polycephalum as well as related performative instructions. Inside the box, the audience receives everything necessary to grow slime mold at home, and witness the behaviour of this fascinating organism. With the set of performative instructions, Jenna Sutela proposes the ways of co-existing and engaging with Physarum polycephalum.
Jenna Sutela works with words, sounds, and other living media, such as Bacillus subtilis nattō bacteria and the “many-headed” slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Her audiovisual pieces, sculptures, and performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Sutela's work has been presented at museums and art contexts internationally, including Guggenheim Bilbao, Moderna Museet, and Serpentine Galleries. She is a Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) in 2019-21.
After purchasing their ticket to Protoplasmic flow, the spectator receives a box containing everything required to activate the performance in a location of their choosing.
Duration: take all the time that you need
Language: instructions are in English and Italian.
By Jenna Sutela
Physarum polycephalum grown by Ian Hands-Portman
Graphic design Johannes Schnatmann and Pomo
Font Helsinki Type Studio
Thanks to Vanda Skácalová and Leah Whitman-Salkin
Published by Samara Editions, Milano, 2021
Co-production Azienda Speciale Palaexpo | Mattatoio
Première in the frame of re-creatures, Rome, July 2021
Printed in Italy
Supported by Kone Foundation e Finnish Cultural Foundation