The first thing you learn when you start working with mycelium is that it is not a being, or a plant, but a smart network that represents one of the most important parts of ecosystems: their digesting, soil producing, remediating network.
It is true that working with digital technology the first obvious reference to networks is the internet, but I also think about electricity. Energy needs a network of connected systems to travel from one place to the next. So I wanted to focus my brief time in Fungus class looking for ways of turning Fungi into buttons (Also because Tangible class got me obsessed in everything interactive and tactible)
So I first wanted to look into making a mycelium surface conductive enough to be used in a electrical circuit.
I was lucky enough to find a pattent for elerctrical tissue made out of mycelium that would help create what I understood would be an organic PCB. Then I was able to find out about how different species of fungi produce a certain enzyme that helps electrical cells absorb energy more efficently.
Even though my results were very scarce the amount of work that I went through helped me realize that as much as fungi and mycelium specially are very good in communicating with chemicals and electrical signals harnessing this power so that we can build electrical systems that are not filled with terrible metals and chemicals is not as easy as it seems.
But I didn't wanted to give up my quest into finding ways of improving electrical circuits through using mycelium's super powers so that nocive e-waste can be avoided.
And so I though of the first and most ubiquitous part of any electronical circuit: buttons and pots.
The subject of these strikes really close home since we use tons of them at ITP, I figured I could come up with a manual for a DIY pushbutton that would use mycelium as a substitute for its plastic parts, so that once you were done with it disposing it would mean that the metal could be clipped out of it and reused, while the rest of it would just get integrated into soil. But turns out that buttons and switches require a lot of precision to be ensembled. Something that cannot be guaranteed with mycelium, specially not in a DIY manner.
So I went one stage up, into another component of the pushbutton: the cap. Buttons, switches and Pots need caps that make them easier to use and prettier to look at, so I thought that coming up with a process to DIY caps for pushbuttons, pots and switches would be interesting, and would definetly reduce the impact of our circuits once they are disposed of.
So the next steps would be experimenting on creating mold for caps that are already out there in the market and seeing how DIY molds could be made...all towards making an actual DIY manual so that we can even hold cap making parties at ITP