Tools Towards Collaborative Survival is a series of near-future wearables for citizen scientists that ask the human to consider fungi as their companion in sensual and practical ways. Speculative yet plausible, critical yet pragmatic, the tools suggest for a future that can already exist here and now.

As we descend into the Anthropocene and the throes of surging socio-environmental crises, new interactions between human and the nonhuman (plants, fungi, microbes) must be created to begin a new path towards an alternative potential future. Our traditional ideas of progress are no longer sustainable through the disconnection between nature and society.

“Collaborative survival,” a term coined by anthropologist Anna Tsing, calls upon reliance and interdependence among living organisms to form hybrid futures. To begin towards these new futures, we need to reorient our understanding of the world building from an anthropocentric one to one that encapsulates a multispecies perspective. By building relationships with these companion species one at a time, we can merge these parts into a whole new story that connects us all.

Tools Towards Collaborative Survival uses off the shelf components built into items that can be worn and carried by the human to guide observation in the context of a mushroom foray, an informal scientific survey to collect and catalogue fungi specimen. Because of the saprotrophic (processing of decaying material) and mycorrhizal (symbiosis with plants) nature of many fungi, mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of fungi, can function as an indicator species of the local environment. Through embodied use, the hybrid user (human + tool) will be able to collect physical specimen and digital data to understand the important role that fungi play in our lives. 


This project is by Jen Liu (jenliujenliu.com)