Drawing on the research of forest ecologist professor Suzanne Simard, botanist and biochemist Diana Beresford-Kroeger and forest medicine expert Dr Qing Li, “The Exchange” is an interactive installation that will display the connections between people and with the symbiotic energy of forests. The installation will be made up of a park bench that will invite participants to sit on it. Their interaction, detected through the use of sensors, will activate lighting changes upon the bench.
These lighting changes, facilitated by human interaction, will demonstrate the social and connective energies the exist between a stand of trees and underground fungal mycelium. Research on mycelium has demonstrated that trees thrive when they share energy resources and communicate with each other. Mycelium connects trees, allowing them to share protective and growth energies with one other. When trees stand alone, they are cut off from this sustainable community energy and are more likely to struggle. “The Exchange” demonstrates the importance of applying the theory of mycelium communicative exchange to the foundations of human society.
Benches, like forest soil, are places of exchange. Found often in urban parks, benches root our desires to feel connective energies with our communities and surrounding greenery. In our project, the bench acts as a stand of trees in a forest, dependent on its mycorrhizal connections. The project demonstrates how when we sit and talk together, when we share (space), we contribute conversation, well-being and collective energies to ourselves and our communities