"Ours is not simply a technological or spiritual separation. It is a profound biological and mental disconnection from how nature works within us … [that] can be reconnected through sensory nature activities." Michael J. Cohen

Symbiont: Reconnect (2022) is a cooperative effort with the most ancient and resourceful organisms on Earth: lichens. It envisions how an enhanced sensitivity to the biological, organic world can foster symbiosis between humans and the environment. The exhibition stems from Ferracin's practice of working with site-specific and immersive installations which investigate the meaning of sentience—both human and non-human—in the context of the contemporary world.

Lichens are rootless, highly resilient organisms with the capacity to adapt and thrive in extreme conditions and environments. Their growth relies on the air, water and the sun, and they are often employed as natural indicators of air-quality. Lichens are deeply enmeshed in their immediate environment, living symbiotically and as extensions of the ecological world.

Symbiont: Reconnect allows the audience to tangibly engage with their own physical relationship to the natural environment by connecting to their cardinal orientation in space. In this way, they can empathise with the lichens as they reconnect to their own immediate surroundings. Ferracin encourages the audience to experience this connection not with their rational minds but with their senses and their physicality. By sharing the same air as the lichens, the audience is invited to reflect upon what is similar rather than what separates the human and non-human experience. In light of the ongoing pandemic—where air quality has become a critical point of discussion—the exhibition offers a contemplative space for the audience to reconsider their relationship to air, breath, and organisms.

The exhibition embraces the discipline of eco-psychology: the practice of connecting and working with nature to enhance psychological wellbeing and, in turn, ecological harmony and environmental sustainability. Symbiont: Reconnect seeks to bring the holistic human—physical, psychological, and spiritual—closer to nature and to Earth. Entranced by the immersive soundscape, the audience is transported back to their somatic awareness through engaging with the simulated solar movements and sharing space and air with the primordial lichens, who encourage the spectators to reconnect to a sense of place, their biological reality, and their physical alignment to the planetary bodies.

The readymade outdoor shade cloth, populated with algae, cyanobacteria, and fungi lichens, was the catalyst for Symbiont: Reconnect , serving as a man-made habitat enabling these biological lifeforms to thrive. Repurposed and placed within the gallery environment, the cloth and the lichens function as an activator of human-biological awareness. The soundscape is a medley of recorded inhalations and exhalations, the transformation of oxygen to carbon dioxide, and the frequency of 396Hz, considered the frequency for expanding one’s imagination and connecting to the vast, timeless cosmic reality.

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