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REFUSE - a bio-sonification exhibition merging music with fungi

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

I had the pleasure of meeting Yuan Chee Wai, member of The Observatory, Singapore-based experimental band behind the "REFUSE", a bio-sonification exhibition merging music with fungi.

Imagine a playable lap steel mycelium guitar played by a mushroom wired to vibrate to the rhythms of growing mycelium.

The exhibition's name, "REFUSE," serves as both a rejection of the anthropocentric world view in times of ecological crises and a celebration of organic growth and decay.

In contrast to conventional musical authorship, The Observatory chose to relinquish control, allowing mushrooms to influence the music.

The band's approach challenges the controlled environment in Singapore, where artists contend with censorship and scrutiny. The exhibition serves as a platform for novel expressions and resistance against limitations.

REFUSE's innovative aspects stem from its unpredictability. Despite challenges in executing the exhibition's live performance, The Observatory navigated uncertainties tied to mushroom growth, fungal contamination, and even myco-phobia from the local institution.

The exhibition's artistic practice goes beyond music. It defies conventional genres, encompassing notions of resistance, decomposition, collaboration, and survival. It emphasizes the importance of challenging traditions and embracing diversity, broadening the understanding of music.

The interplay between music and mushrooms resonates with the collaborative nature of fungi, acting as bridges between various life forms in ecosystems.

In a broader sense, "REFUSE" signifies more than music; it symbolizes resistance against systemic constraints, embodying defiance and creative adaptation.

This innovative approach aligns with The Observatory's mission to break free from traditional norms and connect with audiences through alternative experiences, inviting them to explore unique perspectives and challenge existing paradigms.

Check them out:

⌭ @theobservatorysg

⌭ @yuencheewai

⌭ @cheryleatschips

⌭ Dharma Shan







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