Pushing Mushrooms
February 22, 2012 12:27 PM   Subscribe

"We want to eat, not be eaten by our food, right?"[TED]. Artist/MIT graduate Jae Rhim Lee's current project explores the possibility of, and interest in ecologically responsible interment. She is currently cultivating personalized Infinity Mushrooms, which in combination with the Mushroom Death Suit will promote postmortem mycological growth, and more importantly intimacy with and acceptance of the physical realities of decomposition as vehicles toward death acceptance.

Lee, in conjunction with MIT, planned the FEMA Trailer Project after discovering that many trailers intended for Hurricane Katrina refugees were either unused, or led to further, unforeseen problems. The pilot project converted a surplus trailer into a mobile composting unit/community garden and teaching center.

She has received substantial financial grants and "additional funds" to pursue the Infinity Burial Project, part of her overarching mission to "explore alternative relationships between self, body and environment through living systems and applied design, drawing on her background and strong interests in psychology, environmental sustainability, Eastern religion and disaster management."
posted by obscurator (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's hard to believe that the Mushroom Death Suit isn't a SyFy Original Movie.
posted by delfin at 12:39 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

As much as I want to promote "death acceptance," I feel like death really doesn't need our help on that front.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:52 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Forget the mushrooms - I want a mobile lab that I can rapidly deploy in random places, as depicted in the third link.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:52 PM on February 22, 2012

I came for the name (Mushroom Death Suit); I stayed for the science! Great post.

Some additional background on Decompiture in a PDF from Timothy Myles.

"Essentially what needs to happen is to match up all the various types of organic wastes with their decomposers."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's hard to believe that the Mushroom Death Suit isn't a SyFy Original Movie.

I was thinking band name.
posted by Foosnark at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ich liebe Pfifferlinge!
(And all tasty tasty mushrooms really)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:05 PM on February 22, 2012

I'm finding that my immediate reaction to this is actually pretty similar to the idea of being embalmed; "Can't they just put me in a pine box and plant me with pumping me full of chemicals or spores? I'll get recycled soon enough, thanks!"
posted by usonian at 1:12 PM on February 22, 2012

Girls just wanna have fungi. That's all they really waaaaaaaaant, when the working day is done...
posted by Elmore at 1:13 PM on February 22, 2012

Give me a green burial or give me immortality.
posted by oddman at 1:17 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Isn't this what we have wild dogs for?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:19 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Erm, isn't she kind of breeding pathological fungi? I might be missing something (I hope I'm missing something -- it's a fascinating concept and I've often said I want to be buried without embalming) but it's surprising not to see this addressed.
posted by wayland at 1:24 PM on February 22, 2012

Death doesn't give a fig whether its accepted or not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:41 PM on February 22, 2012

I collect spores, molds and fungi. - Egon Spengler
posted by LN at 1:47 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is interesting and quite timely for me as my mother died last week.

My sister and I looked hard at various options and although green burial sounded great to us, our 90-year-old mother was a little old-school so we opted for cremation.

I think the fungus concept could work well for a slim sector of the populace. I'm surprised at how many of my contemporaries had trouble even with cremation and our decision to skip the funeral business altogether in favor of a private dinner to thank her friends, so persuading them that their own corpses should be colonized by mushrooms might be a stretch.

Personally, I could get behind this if the mushrooms in question were psilocybe cubensis, the fruiting bodies of which could be distributed at an event, say a year or so after my death.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:58 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

When I die, I want to be fed to a cow. Circle of life.
posted by JoanArkham at 2:01 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

This will not chanterelle.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:08 PM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I want to be dumped into the ocean and eventually to become marine snow feeding all those crazy organisms down in the black. After all my useful organs are harvested, of course. Vampire squid and gulper eel, here I come!
posted by Huck500 at 4:48 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

As the fungi slowly parse your tissues and the proteins they gradually become aware of who you were. Each memory and moment is brought into the colony. At the moment your deep in your chest heart and last synapse is absorbed, it awakens; you awaken. A last moment of awareness of all that you were from first to last breath. A few quiet moments of peace while the fungi consider all those moments. Then they flower and with one last breath send their spores and all that you were out into the world.
posted by humanfont at 5:00 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

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