6f. Reseal the jar and move it out of your hood to a dedicated growing area. I like to use another well-cleaned, clear plastic box for this purpose because it adds an extra layer of protection. The growing area
should have a comfortable temperature range ( 60-80°F) and a day/night light cycle, but direct sunlight is
not so good. If there is no ambient daylight in your growing area, then a light with an on-off timer will do.
Every 3 days it helps to gently shake the jar, mixing the growing mycelium through the substrate.
6g. After about 6 days to 2 weeks,
the mycelium will have fully grown
through the material in the jar. Now
you have a choice: use this material as
spawn to grow more mushroom material, or encourage the fruiting bodies
to form. If you use it as spawn, divide
the material in the jar into 4 more jars
of sterilized substrate, as prepared in
6h. To encourage mushrooms/fruiting bodies to grow, expose the mycelium to more air, either by removing the air filter or by unsealing the lid and letting it sit askew on the jar’s rim. You will also need to water
your mushrooms daily using a spray bottle. Don’t get too much water into the jars or spray too close or too
hard. The mushrooms might start appearing after a few days or a few weeks, depending on various factors,
so the best thing to do is be patient. Open the box they are growing in only when you are watering them,
and resist the urge to touch any of the living material until you are ready to harvest the mushrooms.
6i. Another way to encourage mushroom growth is to temporarily change the temperature. Place the
sealed jar in the fridge overnight (or outside if it’s cold), and protect it from cooties by putting it in a sealed
plastic bag. The next morning, remove the jar from the bag and put it back into its grow box.
When I Hear the Word Culture ...
A growing number of artists use living organisms and
the life sciences to make their work. Many want to call
attention to world-altering trends in biotech that permit living processes to be controlled and commodified
by industry. The public knows about the intellectual
property issues surrounding digital media, but now
that it is possible to copyright living entities, normal
growth and reproduction (of protected organisms) are
also crimes. The inevitable fights over biopiracy will
make the Napster flap seem trivial.
Things are already starting to boil. The Critical Arts
Ensemble (CAE) is a collective of bioartists who, like
many scientists and educators, use common laboratory
equipment and exchange biological materials through
the mail. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing federal
grand jury case against CAE member Steve Kurtz,
NOW GO EXPERIMENT »
initiated on charges of terrorist activities and now
focusing on mail and wire fraud. Scientists and artists
worldwide have come to Kurtz’ defense, because a
guilty verdict would have a chilling effect on both
creative expression and scientific research.
Many plants, including orchids, can be cloned like
mushrooms, and recent years have also seen advances
in techniques for culturing human tissue. Skin and cartilage are grown routinely for reconstructive surgeries,
and researchers are working on growing entire organs.
At the University of Western Australia, a collective of
artists and scientists called SymbioticA uses human
tissue as a creative medium, inviting us all to ponder
the complexity of what it means to be cultured.
Many of my own artworks are grown into being;