In a creative collaboration that truly pushes the boundaries, musician and professor Eduardo Miranda will enlist a fungus (at the core of a biocomputer) for a piano - fungal duet.
The "fungus" is actually a slime mold called Physarum polycephalum, one of many organisms previously thought to be a fungus but now known to be so strange and unique that is deserves a separate kingdom. I have written about slime molds before (see Mold with memory: the stuff of science fiction); these near-alien organisms are single-celled beings that live in colonies and can perform feats of group intelligence that baffle researchers. This slime mold solves computational problems, easily figures out the famous Shortest Path Problem, dynamically allocates colony roles for the good of the organism, and even exhibits memory.
In this musical composition, tubules formed by the slime mold act as variable resistors; piano notes are transformed into electrical waveforms and are sent through a slime mold tubule. Miranda compares his music to that of the famous modern composer John Cage, referring to "chance, but not randomness... [harnessing] a structure" that is beyond their control.
What will slime molds bring us next? I have come to expect truly anything.
Many thanks to Elliott Bannan for sending along this wild article!
Festival director and musician Eduardo Miranda has put the decomposition into composition: his new work uses cultures of the fungus Physarum polycephalum. This mould is the core component of an interactive biocomputer, which receives sound signals and sends back responses. The result is a musical duet between the fungus and Prof Miranda, on piano.