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  • Writer's pictureJarek Lustych

Symbiotic artist - Jarek Lustych

Updated: Apr 4

Posthumanism, takes a broadly critical view of the wide humanity–science–technology nexus. Posthumanism is fundamentally a critical project of regrounding humans as terrestrial corporeal beings inescapably embedded within and dependent upon the more-than-human living systems that are the condition of possibility of human life. Transhumanism, and some fear of a disconnection leads to an increased interest in non-human beings and possible models of cooperation with them. The synergy of human and non-human activity may change the current perception of the phenomenon of life and the place of man in the world, it may even lead to an expansion of the habitus. The art that accompanies or replaces this reflection confirms the importance of collaboration and interdependence as essential survival factors. From that interspecies models it is possible to deduce ways of crossing species limitations. We can anticipate with increased intuition possible future models of the tranhuman - human relationship.

A passage from the anthropocentric perspective postulated in critical posthumanism is the proposal of dispersed authorship. The moment the human author resigns autonomy is the emergence of new form of symbolic practices producing new symbolically structured social environment with a certain selective advantages. Works created in the wide-humanity field (as a total assemblage of humankind, cultural, technological, and biological systems), the materials and technologies of which are interspecies cooperation in contrast to the Bellmer's figure of specific kinship show a deeper relationship to the biological nature of life. The symbiotic artist creates a work which temporal and spatial boundaries are not definable.

Pleurotus ostreatus mycelium

Mushrooms in their abundance begin to appear at the end of summer. It is as if only the growing night calls these organisms from their underground kingdom. This suddenness of appearance, so different from the vegetable one, has always been an object of human awe. Mysterious beings suddenly sprouting up in unpredictable places with their undoubted chthonicity simultaneously fascinated and aroused anxiety with their enigmatic. The obvious sensuality of their shapes, the thickness of the shaft, and the delicacy of the gills are also awkward. This form, carrying strong sexual connotations, has its justification. What we consider a fungus is just the reproductive organ of a larger organism hidden underground from our sight. The ambivalence of its traits – poisonous/edible - meant that mushrooms were used in magical practices. The well-recognized hallucinogenic properties of some species allowed the exit from the everyday world into augmented reality. Hence, all these complex meanings gave rise to my interest in mushrooms as a partner in the study of the figure of the non-human artist.

Since the awareness of human finitude took on a personal aspect for me, my perception of the world and my work have changed, with a clear shift of emphasis. The approaching end made it clearer that we, as a species, are in a similar place on the timeline. We are beginning to accept the idea of the mortality of all mankind. And if we can disappear, it's hard to treat us as the crown of creation. This decentralization of the position of man results in the re-articulation of the position of nature in the earthly order in philosophical thought. The art that accompanies or replaces this reflection confirms the importance of cooperation and interdependence as the basic factors of survival.

Introducing non-human beings into the field of art as active participants and recognizing their subjectivity leads to empathy and activation of the affective cognition factor, and consequently to understanding. At the same time, it allows one to discover hitherto unrecognized possibilities and effects of shared creativity. This opens the way to accepting a concept in which human beings are no longer autonomous components of a humanistic ontology, but are constituted only in coexistence with many non-human actants. Thus, the beholder gains the chance to follow the network of relations between things of all kinds, human and non-human, without prior judgments about the roles played by various types of subjects.

The symbiotic artist as a concept that makes it possible to leave the anthropocentric perspective contains the proposal of diffused authorship. The moment when a human author gives up autonomy opens up a chance for the emergence of a new form of symbolic practice. Works created in the field of wide-humanity, whose materials and technologies constitute interspecies cooperation, show a deeper connection with the biological nature of life. A symbiotic artist creates a work whose temporal and spatial boundaries are indefinable. Is revealing unknown aspects of a non-human being an art? It can be if we remember that the role of art is to search for truth, and each representation or experience "explains" the object. The unveiling of what was hidden also broadens the observer's field of reality and the sphere of his sensations. There remains the question of the authorship of such an act of art. Should one assign them to the translator or the translation object? An object in translation reveals its hitherto dormant aspect and, regardless of the medium chosen by the translator, it is simply one of many manifestations of being. The role of the translator is therefore only to choose a medium that allows one to experience the discrete reality of the object. The synergy of human and non-human activities can change the current perception of the phenomenon of life and the place of man in the world, it can even lead to the extension of the habitus.

Mushrooms, although so far from man in biological systematics, may also prove to be his partner. Listening to the voices of their inner life, to the pulsation of energy is an attempt to reach their essence. These sounds can be juxtaposed or even combined with sounds audible under the skin of a human and recorded. Although reaching them in both cases requires a physical breach/puncture/transgression of the body's integument. In this way, a dark space of subcutaneous connections between tangled shreds (threads, fibres?) will be revealed to the art participant, going beyond the biological nature of natural beings. It confirms that things become what they are and gain meaning only in and through a network of relationships, and as such it is related to the way of thinking about agency, and not as an exclusively human ability (conscious, reflective and intentional actors), but of all participants in the environment. Here I see a gap that allows us to cross the rigid boundaries of anthropocentrism and see the Real of all earthly beings.

Published: Hear Us. Revista Arte da Cena, v.9, n.1 (2023). ISSN 2358-6060 Disponível em

Pleurotus diamor, interaction, still frame


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