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Finding Children of Compost

Mee-Yee Chan(Clara)

The symbionts (children of compost) are born as my response to Haraway’s call for “collaborative and divergent story-making practice” in her Camille Stories. They act as a kind of bodily enhancement or mode of sensation enabling us to experience the universe and collectively transform the ruined universe by imagination and proposition of stories. My symbionts are agents with elements from the flora, fauna, humans and others. The lichens on the main bodies represent the non-hierarchical relationships between humans and non-human. My symbionts are far from being pretty or perfect, but they are not a dystopian vision of the future. The uneven limbs, overblown body or lack of optical device reminds us of the difficulties and problems in real life. This project seeks to acknowledge the pain and frustration of the contemporary world, to respond to and grapple with the urgency in cultural-social changes with the help of posthuman thinking channel through the whimsical symbionts, which induces the sense of wonder that build empathy, care, love and resilience to cope with our problems affirmatively. As Bradidotti said,” Despair is not a project; affirmation is”.

Lichens are among the most well-known and remarkable examples of symbiosis: They are actually biological collaborations between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism (a photobiont), usually a kind of algae or a cyanobacterium. The fungus certainly benefits from the relationship, gleaning the energy produced by its partner’s photosynthesis operations. The photobiont may benefit from the moisture and shelter provided by the fungus. Ultimately, though, the relationship may be more akin to a farmer (the fungus) and its crop or livestock (the photobiont) -- or, as Daniel Mathews writes in "Cascade-Olympic Natural History," to a human being and its helpful intestinal microorganisms.

Lichens are very sensitive to pollution and changes in temperature and humidity. Scientists have long been successfully used lichens as ecological indicators or environmental health thermometers. Evaluating lichen population and species diversity in a particular ecosystem helps to understand the impact of problems like climate change or pollution.

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