Release by Yishai Eliezer Barak

MEDIUM: Video / Film

Ganoderma applanatum, the artist’s mushroom, has a soft underside filled with pores. Artists have used this portion of the mushroom for centuries as a canvas to etch on. For the mushroom, this area is essential because the pores are where spores are released. Spore release is a complex process that is highly controlled and precise. Here we see the mushrooms themselves represent spores gliding through the air with equal control and precision. When the spores land, they germinate into mycelium and propagate new mushrooms. The new mushrooms spread more spores continuing the cycle. We see the end of the journey as a return to the beginning.

Juggling is an ancient art. Symbolically it represents the movement of the planets or the music of the spheres. In the precise movements, we see and appreciate the cyclical nature of the cosmos. Here I use Ganoderma mushrooms in place of conventional juggling props to represent the spores they release. Under the proper conditions, mushrooms release spores into the air to propagate the next generation. The process is highly controlled and many aspects of it are still a mystery. I harvest the Ganoderma mushrooms used in this video from Lakeshore Nature Preserve while making collections for my research. I am a Master’s student in the Pringle Lab. We study fungal ecology and evolution. Fungi are an essential part of the biogeochemical cycles that take place on Earth. I have spent years juggling and am always looking for new objects and tricks to entertain with. While out working I wondered if I could find samples that would serve as good props. Fortunately, nature provides and I was able to collect some amazing specimens. The video fuses my hobby of juggling along with my research work of studying the ecology of fungi. My hope is that it will bring joy to the audience and bring awareness to these important organisms.