Bioluminescent Mushrooms - Nature's Glow Sticks

Bioluminescent Mushrooms - Nature's Glow Sticks

Postby domitron » Sun May 27, 2007 8:00 pm

This year for my very first burning man art project. My project is to create a magical stand in the middle of the dark night playa, far away from the noise and lights, featuring green glowing mushrooms presented under a fiber optic umbrella that twinkles overhead and with ambient music emanating from the stand. Today this project is a lot more than a distant dream; it is completely worked out in my notes and well underway. But doing this has been pretty tedious.

It has taken me months of research to get these to grow the way I want. I have done numerous growing test trails and read just about every piece of scientific research on the species and a lot of the stories surrounding them. And it's paid off: growing this species this well in captivity has not been done to my knowledge! So, like Burning Man 2007 itself, THE PROJECT IS A GO! I have even registered my project and will be placed out in the deep playa! I also have a tiny web page detailing my project (well, at least some of the details):

http://home.comcast.net/~rogerhofer/Glo ... rooms.html

I am so excited! This should be good!

PS - I do not grow nor distribute psychedelic mushrooms. I will not, for obvious reasons, entertain discussion or replies concerning that topic. Thank you.
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Postby MikeVDS » Sun May 27, 2007 8:28 pm

Sounds like a really awesome project. I cannot wait to see it.
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Re: Bioluminescent Mushrooms - Nature's Glow Sticks

Postby Apollonaris Zeus » Sun May 27, 2007 9:24 pm

domitron wrote:PS - I do not grow nor distribute psychedelic mushrooms. I will not, for obvious reasons, entertain discussion or replies concerning that topic. Thank you.


OK, but I have to ask. Are you using them now?

It might just make you more credulous if you said no!

We've had many a people speak about their pipe dreams before.

Good Luck!
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Postby domitron » Sun May 27, 2007 11:00 pm

I don't have a problem with magic mushrooms, but this isn't about magic mushrooms. It's about my art project. Magic mushrooms are just mushroom weeds that happen to mess up the brains chemistry temporarily, and kids like to blab and blab about them online on other websites.

In my opinion what this art project is bringing to the playa is much more interesting from a mycology standpoint. For example the reason these glow as they do isn't even known! And it's amazing seeing them glow at night. I still can't get over it when I see it. And they glow consistently for MONTHS and months. It is amazing!
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Postby domitron » Sun May 27, 2007 11:06 pm

PS - One of the things that I am worried about with this project is that someone is going to try to consume these mushrooms to get high. They will be VERY sick if they do that. They won't die, but they might wish they were dead.
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Postby MikeVDS » Mon May 28, 2007 6:25 am

From your page it sounded like they'd be enclosed in a glass case. Is that not the case? Or can people enter the case?
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Postby LeChatNoir » Mon May 28, 2007 8:54 am

I'd say you should take precautions for people interacting with the fungus. Trust me... some goofball will eat one of them unless you engineer something into the art project that prevents this.

Plus I can see people walking off in amazment into the night, each holding high above them a glowing mushroom of their very own.

And by the way, I really like this idea. I'm looking forward to coming across it.

ETA: Some type of lock on the aquarium cover perhaps? I'd suspect that would be more than enough to prevent folks from messing with it.
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Postby mdmf007 » Mon May 28, 2007 9:01 am

Noir is correct - people cant help but eat things they are not supposed too.

Another interesting fact I came across from my statistics books.

At least 4 people die a year putting their heads in Paint can shaking machines.
What a way to go.

So I figure if a human will do that - we will do anything.

later
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Postby domitron » Mon May 28, 2007 10:01 am

In order to eat them, and they are very tiny, one would have to destroy the entire display basically, breaking into the sealed aquarium. I am will mention that they are not edible or hallucinogenic on the display. I hate to have to do that since it sort of distracts from the display, but I think it's worth it.

Honestly, there isn't much information about the edibility of these. They would taste terrible (I mean really terrible) judging from similar species, but they likely wouldn't cause more than a stomach upset. One persons mild stomach upset might be another's vomiting for an hour straight. I would just hate to have anyone eat them to find out how their body reacted. It is known, though, that they are not deadly toxic like some other mushrooms or else I wouldn't make this piece.

I do believe that other things at Burning Man are more dangerous than this by a long shot. Plus as I said, there will be a clear indication with a tiny skull and cross bones mentioning they are non-hallucinogenic and non-edible (the skull and bones for effect more than anything since they are not poisonous, just irritating to the gastric system).
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Postby LeChatNoir » Mon May 28, 2007 11:36 am

If they are in a sealed "biosphere", then I'd suspect that you'll be fine. Though there are thieves lurking around in BRC, I've found that the vast majority of participants understand when something is meant to be left alone or if it could be climbed on.

If you need access to the inner environment for servicing every morning, then again, a small lock would solve that problem easily.

Nice work.
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Postby mdmf007 » Mon May 28, 2007 6:25 pm

Tell people they will make you poo. No one likes to poo themselves, even if they want to get stoned.
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Postby domitron » Mon May 28, 2007 6:27 pm

No one likes to poo themselves, even if they want to get stoned.


I could show you this one website... ah, never mind. :oops:
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Postby Gumbo » Tue May 29, 2007 3:48 pm

Very cool......looking forward to it
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Wed May 30, 2007 10:52 am

i know there is supposed to be a lunar eclipse this year, but at all other times, will the moon be too bright for the bioluminescent effect to be noted?
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Postby Bootzy2012 » Wed May 30, 2007 11:43 am

First off, congratulations for doing this. I think it really speaks to the theme and the direction that BM wants to go. People need to be exposed to nature in a way that makes them think differently. I do hope your piece is left alone to the enjoyment of all.

As to the moon....it will be full and high in the sky at around 3:30 am on the night of the eclipse. Unfortunately, the moon will be rising around 7:30 pm. We will have adjusted to the moon's brightness by the middle of the night and during the eclipse, the change in ambient light will be quite dramatic and people should have a chance to really see the effect of the mushrooms. The whole event lasts about 5 hours with total darkness taking place over 90 minutes. Here is a sort of local table for times.

Total Eclipse of the Moon

BABBITT, NEVADA
o ' o '
W118 38, N38 32

Pacific Daylight Time

Moon's
Azimuth Altitude
h m o o
Moonrise 2007 Aug 27 19:20 105.7 ----
Moon enters penumbra 2007 Aug 28 00:52.2 180.5 40.0
Moon enters umbra 2007 Aug 28 01:50.9 198.6 38.4
Moon enters totality 2007 Aug 28 02:52.0 215.6 33.4
Middle of eclipse 2007 Aug 28 03:37.3 226.5 27.9
Moon leaves totality 2007 Aug 28 04:22.7 236.1 21.3
Moon leaves umbra 2007 Aug 28 05:23.8 247.2 11.3
Moon leaves penumbra 2007 Aug 28 06:22.5 256.7 1.2
Moonset 2007 Aug 28 06:32 258.1 ----
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Postby Thecatman » Wed May 30, 2007 9:05 pm

Sounds like a way cool project and I look foward to see it. It is true, you can tell someone there are billions of galaxies each containing hundreds of billions of stars and they'll belive you. If that same person saw a sign on a wall that says WET PAINT, you guessed it, theyll touch it to find out.
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Postby domitron » Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:43 am

Thank you everyone for the encouraging words! I love to hear the people are interested in this. For many people this display will just be another glowing thing that is much weaker than the ones we are all used to (like glowsticks). For me, it's an amazing thing to see live mushrooms glowing! It just has a super high coolness factor I guess, and I know there are others that feel that way too (yeah I like fireflies too).

As for the eclipse, the display will not be up during the Monday night (Tuesday morning) eclipse. It will be going up Tuesday since I arrive in the day Tuesday.

As for the moonlight, it really could be a problem, except I already worked that out. Moonlight during a totally full moon is about .01 ft-cd or about the hundredth the intensity of a candle at 1 foot which is about equal to the intensity of a candle at 10 feet (assuming an idealized point-source model for the candle flame). I did some viewing tests of my test block mushrooms 10 feet from a candle in a totally dark room. I found that while the light from the candle at 10 feet was not bright enough to cause my pupils to contract (they still totally dilated in a few minutes), that much light did interfere with the apparent glow of the blocks. You could see the glowing in that light easily, but it wasn't as cool as with total darkness for sure. What to do?

Well, the good news is that moon beams, like sun beams, hit earth traveling nearly linearly, which means moonlight casts harsh shadows just like sunlight. And if you read the details section in my website, you'd notice that I am putting up a fiber optic umbrella that twinkles on top. The umbrella will block out almost all of the distracting moonlight from the display while advertising its placement with beautiful twinkling on top. And the umbrella is adjustable so I can position it just right to block out moonlight through the whole arc.
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Postby robotland » Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:24 am

Really looking forward to finding this project out on the night playa...And it gives me some interesting ideas for projects that explore human nature. Please be sure to update us after the burn about positive and negative interactions with the exhibit.
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:20 am

As a one time dabbler in mycology, I salute you my friend. Growing normal mushrooms is hard enough work under ideal conditions. I hope your results surpass your wildest imagined thoughts.

I will definitely seek this project out and hope to meet you.
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Postby domitron » Sun Jun 03, 2007 1:53 pm

CapSmashy, what really makes this possible is the long maturation period for the fruits of this species. Pins to mature fruits take about 1 month, and then the fruits tend to hang around for about a month before they get sort of twisted and snarly.

I also am in debt to my wife who helped me obtain the entire research paper "The effect of culture conditions on the mycelial growth and luminescence of naturally bioluminescent fungi." I had located the abstract online, but she was able to obtain the entire paper through her college masters program access privileges (see http://home.comcast.net/~rogerhofer/FEMS.pdf). Ironically, the research contained the exact sort of information I needed to really get these to fruit well--like it was written especially for me. In particular the key finding for me is that this species thrives at an exceptionally low pH of 3.5 to 4.0 (optimal 3.8 ). This finding surprised me since other edibles I've grown, such as oysters, Reishi, Shiitake, etc., do not thrive and probably could not even survive at such a low pH. Even the lower-pH wood lovers tend to require much higher pHs. I believe that even though this is a soft-fleshed mushroom, with a shelf-like morphology similar to a miniature oyster, that super low pH affords this species ample time to mature since it sort of preserves them. An two-month old oyster, just for comparison, would be nothing more than a mound of goo or even less.
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Edibility

Postby domitron » Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:09 am

A few of you were concerned about people breaking into the display and trying to eat the mushrooms, getting sick possibly. I picked a few of the older specimens off last night, and I now know why there isn't much known about the edibility of these. They are totally disgusting. They smell terrible and have a sticky gum-like resin on their base. The gum resin is so disgusting that I almost felt sick to my stomach just smelling it. I also could not get it off my hands, even with Ajax and a few other cleaners I used. It eventually just wore off after a day, and I'll definitely wear gloves next time I prune them. The point is, that you'd have to be insane to try these. They were gross enough for me to get sick just picking them. I'd almost rather eat dog shit than these.
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Postby Nickel » Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:07 pm

I can't wait to come and check this out. I salute you for being willing to keep things alive on the playa, and things that I never knew existed at that!
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Postby DJmoYst » Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:28 pm

Are you able to bring mushrooms cross state lines? I know you aren't suppose to bring and fruits or vegetables. Just a thought.
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sounds delicious.

Postby scouts honor » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:02 pm

sounds delicious. cant wait to see it.
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Postby Thecatman » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:26 pm

[quote="DJmoYst"]Are you able to bring mushrooms cross state lines? I know you aren't suppose to bring and fruits or vegetables. Just a thought.[/quote] That mostly pertains to California, Floreeduh, and Arizona
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Postby domitron » Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:27 am

Nothing crosses state lines here, folks, because I live in California. The thought of these competing somehow with the flora of the black rock dessert, though, is pretty funny. Like most all mushrooms, these grow where the conditions are just right. Their growth is very tenuous at best, and getting the kind of fruiting I have achieved, is not trivial. This species grows exclusively on dead rotting hardwood and does not parasite living trees. As such they cannot pose a threat to any living plant anywhere, in California or otherwise.
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Postby Bob » Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:07 pm

A few thoughts --

I missed where you said you lived, but the temperature swing on the playa might vary from 110 deg in an enclosed space in the afternoon down to 40 something at night.

No playa art installation is immune from being fucked with by stupid or malicious participants. Plan accordingly. You might have fewer headaches if you place it within view of your campsite.

Strictly speaking, the BLM permit stipulations prohibit "foreign" material unless adequate measures are taken to segregate that material from the environment -- eg the couple inches of granite sand used under the Man to prevent burn scars are placed over a fiberglass blanket. But don't underestimate the tendency for things to get banned or frowned upon, eg especially this year wrt anything involving live or recently living plant material.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Postby domitron » Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:17 pm

Thanks, Bob. I don't think it's going to be a problem. If someone wants to break open the aquarium and eat the mushrooms, then they'll enjoy feeling nauseated all night and probably end up being treated by my doctor friend who will be practicing this year at Burning Man.

The mushrooms will be totally covered during all times of the day, and completely shaded during the day from all infrared and most visible light. Temperature swings in the shade are not that high, but even if they were, these don't mind an hour or two of 110F. They aren't that delicate at the stage I am bringing them. At nighttime there will be a chemical heat pad, not to keep them alive but just so the interior stays over 60F to have a decent glowing effect. Again, if that doesn't work, they'll just stop glowing. Last year the night was really much hotter than 40F, but in 2004 I do recall a few really cold nights. You never know what you'll get.

As far as frowned upon, I don't think so. LadyBee seemed to love the idea, and I don't think anyone else is going to care either because this is a totally contained biowedge. Besides, as far as I am concerned if you don't get a few people upset, then the piece is probably as lame as hell. They key is not getting the wrong people upset, and I don't think that is going to happen because there is absolutely nothing wrong with this art display as far as the BLM should be concerned, and they ultimately matter the most.
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Re: Edibility

Postby Toolmaker » Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:01 pm

domitron wrote:I also could not get it off my hands, even with Ajax and a few other cleaners I used. It eventually just wore off after a day.


I have had good luck with Acetone, Kerosene, Gas, etc. If you have a small cut somewhere you will know it but the gunk will likely come off your hands. I have yet to get myself messy with anything that Acetone can't get rid of.

For regular auto repair hand cleaning I use some orange crap with pumice that works nice. They sell it in auto supply places but I forget the name.. maybe gojo.

Good luck with the project.. I've seen glowing bugs, fish, but never mushrooms or plants. As Bob pointed out the temps are kinda wacky out there so make sure it can survive the extreme heat and chilly evenings. You may want to drop an email to someone at the ORG to see if having the stuff in an enclosure would suffice to comply with permit restrictions.
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Postby FallenAngel » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:33 am

This is very cool. I look forward to seeing it.
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