It began as a proposed sequel to a live action roleplay (Bloodsport < The Island) for UNFIX Festival 2021, where I’d planned to create a piece of ontological design: a talisman that can record, visualise and enhance one’s presence in digital ritual. Manipulating, storing and better understanding psychic energy. The intention to connect humans across geographical distances underlined my aspirations at Rupert's 9th Alternative Education Programme, but the medium - beyond a signature use of menstrual blood - remained obscure.
Reading Starhawk’s Dreaming the Dark during the 6 month programme problematised my desire to control and stagnate energy, much as she asserts that it must keep “moving” and return to the earth: “filtered, purified”.
During a trip in London’s Epping Forest in summer 2021, I called on nature spirits to aid me and mycelium networks emerged as a subterranean technological infrastructure that can be activated during ritual. Utilising excerpts from a speculative text-in-progress and a pentagrammic motif from the original Bloodsport universe, foraged Lithuanian chanterelle mushrooms formed a fairy ring and channelled blood into a central tube connecting to the soil outside the Tech Arts gallery – and ultimately to fellow international ritualists who joined via a Discord talk session for the launch of the Heavy Centre group show on 25th November 2021.
The piece is a land-based, site-specific work that requires its organic components to be foraged by the artist from naturally-occurring sources local to where it will be exhibited. In practice, this means that local moss and mushrooms as well as fresh menstrual blood from a consenting ritualist's recent cycle, or recently collected extravenus blood of a consenting ritualist, will need to be assembled prior to each incidence of its exhibition. The length of central tube earthing the blood to the outdoor soil will also depend on placement of the installation and can be adapted depending on the conditions of each venue and location. Plastic Lattice can function as a standalone installation or as a performative installation.
Plastic Lattice (2021) | 93 x 73 x 28cm + site-specific extended length, performative installation: foraged local mushrooms, PET bottles, foraged local moss, vinyl tubing, plastic tubing connectors, scavenged metal chair, polyester, wool, cotton, modelling clay, safety pins, menstrual blood, water, foraged soil, paper diary with stickers
At Heavy Centre in Vilnius, the performative installation functioned as a lunarpunk fiction. A ritual artefact from a speculative landscape is routinely visited by an unidentified lab technician, who reads words from the pages of a crusty old diary survived from our present era, as if in prayer or reverence to a greater subterranean diety. During this first ritual performance, energetic contact was successfully received by various co-ritualist friends across Europe and North America, who all connected into the mycelium network via their local patch of earth.
At the eponymously titled solo show at Mehringplatz 20, Berlin, I continued my experiments by fleshing out the qualitative nature of data transmitted by Plastic Lattice. On October 4th 2022, I did a live demonstration of the ritual using my menstrual blood and colluded with attendees of the exhibition launch to send five specific symbols to two co-ritualist friends connecting from Malaysia and Lithuania, before gleaning live feedback from them to compare their impressions to the symbols we had sent from the gallery.
For the first time, I also opened up the work to gallery visitors to use the device themselves, with the aid of an instructional diagram for the ritual and an instructional audio track co-produced with John Broback.
Iteration by iteration, the fictional ritual artifact is turning into a prototype of ontological design that will hopefully unlock analogue, land-assisted technological prowess for geographically separated groups of humans. The quantity and quality of feedback collected with each showing will grow and inform how each new iteration will be experienced by the public.