Fungi Media: A Post-Internet Performance of Bodily Mutations as an Enactment of Alternative Sexualities

Bockowski, Piotr. 2022. Fungi Media: A Post-Internet Performance of Bodily Mutations as an Enactment of Alternative Sexualities. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This theory-practice PhD project investigates post-Internet performance art, i.e. art which is visually inspired by mutations of human bodies on the Internet, to stage a form of bodily decomposition in real-life spaces. As a framing device for my thesis, I propose the concept of ‘fungi media’. This concept builds on the vital role of fungi in the decomposition of individual organisms’ bodies to highlight the role of media, including the Internet, in breaking down and reassembling human and nonhuman bodies into complex ecologies. Body performance that engages with fungi on a visual and material level is used in this project to explore the possibility of enacting alternative sexualities and non-normative lifestyles within the present-day context of the decomposing world. Those alternative sexualities are described in the thesis as ‘fungosexual’. This formulation repositions queer sexualities in the context of the original meaning of the term ‘queer’, which is ‘rot’, and which stands for a fungiinduced process of decomposition. With this, I explore the foundational importance of rot for both breaking down and sustaining bodies, relationships and life as such. Using the mutability of fungal life as a model, I also look at life’s mutation beyond sexual reproduction and beyond binary gender roles. In line with its theory-practice aspect, the PhD has a dual methodology. On the one hand, it uses a humanities framework (drawn from philosophies of posthumanism and new materialism, media theory, and theories of sexuality and the body) to engage, critically and creatively, with bioscience research into microbes and fungi. On the other, it mobilises the concept of ‘fungi media’ for my own performance art and curatorial work. The performance space used for my research, which is a London squat inhabited by both artists and fungi, serves as an important actor in these performances. My overall aim with this thesis is to position bodily mutation unfolding on and off the Internet as a performative form of dark vitalism. This philosophical-artistic approach offers strategies for urban dwelling, which transcend normative family and sexual life to embrace a hybrid fungosexuality.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00031708

Additional Information:

Redacted version of thesis made available. Access to the full version containing third party copyrighted material is restricted.

Keywords:

Fungi, media, ecology, queer, mutation, performance, squatting, post-internet

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

31 March 2022

Item ID:

31708

Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2022 09:13

Last Modified:

11 Apr 2022 09:13

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/31708

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