Through the microscope: the lively art of decomposition, fermentation and transformation took place at the Calthorpe Community Garden in London Kings Cross. It was co-hosted by Ellie Doney, Hari Byles and Melissa Thompson from the Roving Microscope, who put together a public program of workshops introducing microscopes into community spaces in London, Rokiah Yaman and Katalin Patonay from LEAP micro AD, a cross sector partnership developing micro digesters for closed loop urban recycling systems based at Calthorpe garden, and me. Thank you to the Roving Microscope for securing support from the British Ecological Society and the East End Community Foundation, and the wonderful group of bacteria and compost curious people who joined us and made it a great day!
Heading towards an uncertain passage, dressed for decay, aware of the power and clarity that arise from the end of isolation. Trusting the unknown; look around, a certain impatience to get started, how more ready can we be?
We are many.
The Roving Microscope and LEAP Micro AD gathered us at the Calthorpe Community Garden for a fermentation workshop. Heaps of heaps and multitudes in jars met with talking heads and curious hands. We hand blended bokashi to make an anaerobic fermenting mix, folding in innoculants and food stuffs, lactic serum, molasses sweet tea and leaf mould from Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. We fed digestate slurry from the micro into the insulated composting bin where green waste goes into composting hyperdrive.
We toasted microbial self–determination and the constant iterations of cultural transformation and microscopic free association. Living cultures emeshed with decaying ones, this is deliberate, boundaried rot ~ and it aims to rejuvenate.
I took a tupperwear of bokashi home and made round squishy moist balls, tied them with string and hung them up in the understairs cupboard. I forgot about them and they grew an impressive concentric fuzzy white mould casing.
White mould good, black mould bad.
First you, then me.
The ongoingness of life is coupled with the inevitability of deterioration, the new world constantly emerging from the decline of the old one… We can do things to enhance this decomposition, build insulated compost heaps and anaerobic digesters, or slow it down with chemical preservatives and packaging but we cannot stop the rot from happening, we cannot interrupt this drive to free up space. This tangible truth about the dance of life being the dance of decay is possibly my favourite contagion spread through fermentation workshops.
As the myth of the world-making human made in it’s own image is unmade, the response – ability of ideas to emerge, spread and mutate is threaded in its place. We wanted to dive into the microscapes of of everything – wormery juice, kefir, saurkraut, anaerobic digestate, food scraps juice, saliva, nail grit, scar tissue. We live with rotting aspects of our selves, in our lives; fermentation can be a praxis of whole – ing or becoming whole, where striving for stability and form can literally be broken down to reveal empty spaces and new possibilities for wholeness.
If you were less invisible would you be more understood?
First me, then you.
This is part of ROT, a section of The Learned Pig exploring multispecies creativity through modest tales of collaboration and coexistence amidst world-ending violence and disorder. ROT is conceived and edited by Julia Cavicchi.