Mycelium is the vegetative state of fungi that often gives rise to mushrooms. Underneath our forests or within the mass of organic substrates, they grow branch-like organisms in search of water and cellulose. They act as the most sophisticated form of nature’s glue, transporting, breaking down and feeding so many parts of our ecosystem. This natural material technology is central to the work of Mae-Ling Lokko and Gustavo Crembil; Groundmurmurs, an outdoor installation located near the centre of Park Sonsbeek, sited in the quiet belly of a beech-tree forest and honey mushroom underground kingdom.
Made up of a large-scale suspended catenary mesh of mycelium cylinders, Groundmurmurs hangs in the middle of a beech tree forest in form of an inverted dome. The mycelium catenary mesh takes direct influence from the cautious vocabulary of arborists and mushroom foragers to interact with the forest. Rising about 5 metres above the forest floor, the ancient relationship between the underground mycelia soldiers below ground and towering trees are inverted. Typically hidden below the ground, mycelia which store and circulate a steady rush of resources – moisture, sugar, pollutants, metals, air and heat – in vast proportions and speeds are brought above the surface. As such, Groundmurmmus is conceptualised as a generative justice ecology – defined by the bottom-up creation, transformation and circulation of value to all participating stakeholders. The production life cycle and experience of the work makes it an invitation to participants and visitors to ‘stop looking ahead and forward’, but rather to look around: to cultivate an understanding of one’s relationship to the margin wherever one’s point of reference is. The participatory, distributed assembly of Groundmurmurs is a critical aspect of the mycelia-like methodology that aims to showcase and engage an existing, robust social infrastructure of production and adaptation already present in Arnhem.
Mae-ling Lokko (1987, Taif) is an architectural scientist and building technology researcher from Ghana and the Philippines, whose work centres on the upcycling of agrowaste and biopolymer materials into high-performance, clean-building material systems for humidity control, indoor air-quality remediation and water-quality control applications. As an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY and founder of Willow Technologies, her research aims to codevelop new upcycling business models between the Global North and South, and to evolve material life-cycle design criteria to meet generative justice criteria. Lokko’s recent projects have been exhibited globally at the Somerset House 2020; Trienalle Milano, 2020; Radialsystem, Berlin, 2019; Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, 2019; Luma Foundation, Arles, 2019; 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, 2018; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 2018; Royal Institute of British Architects-North as part of the Liverpool Biennial, 2018; and at the Mmofra Foundation, Accra (2017–).
Gustavo Crembil is an Argentinean architect whose practice draws from the fields of design, architecture, craft, performance and activism. A former Fulbright scholar, among his artist-in-residence appointments are UCLA’s HyperMedia Studio, Los Angeles; EKWC, Oisterwijk, Netherlands; Cranbrook Academy of Art, MN; and Creative Glass Center of America, WheatonArts, Millville, NJ. His individual and collaborative work has been exhibited at venues including MoMA PS1, New York, 2019; Studio X / Istanbul Design Biennial, 2018; BIENALSUR, Buenos Aires, 2017; ISEA 2015: Disruption, Vancouver; Re-New Festival, Copenhagen, 2013; and Transitio_MX, Mexico City, 2013. He was a founding partner of THEM: Lynch + Crembil, a practice recognised as an emergent architectural for their design as scholarship work. Among his current research interest are contemporary craft, informal urbanism, adaptive re-use and ‘mestizo’ technologies. Currently, he is an Associate Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s School of Architecture in Troy, NY.