Materials grown are better than manufactured is an innovative, promising approach in material sciences, aiming to achieve unique self-grown material, attracting considerable research efforts in recent years.
Today, anthropogenic activities like plastic pollution, fossil fuel extraction and landfill waste are causing environmental distress and calling for a re-invention of how we think about materials. During her trainee period at an automotive textile business in Silvassa, textile designer Anushree Goel witnessed pollution and the harsh effect of the industry on the environment. The textile industry is the largest polluting industry second only chemical industry in the world due to the footprint of plastic fragments called microfibres. They often land in our oceans, causing threats to our marine ecosystem. The microfibres then gradually enter our food chain and bloodstream, threatening our future generations. Discovering these two major causes of marine pollution, Goel was motivated to research a holistic solution and drive awareness of this issue.
One innovative approach which promises to address some of these challenges is the growing of natural materials to replace traditional manufacturing methods. The Microbial Revolution is a new age revolution where innovators learn from mechanisms of the natural ecosystem to create regenerative materials to do more good and less harm. One example of this is the use of mycelium, the root networks of fungi, to grow materials that are natural, biodegradable, and more sustainable to produce when compared to other commonly used materials such as plastic.
Overview of Yogi Culture
Noticing these contemporary environmental issues and the potential of growing materials to transform the textile industry, Goel initiated research on the effect of consciousness on microbial growth in her project titled Yogi Culture. During her spiritual study with Brahma Kumari’s World Spiritual University, Goel learnt about Raj Yoga meditation which is a meditative practice to rule over the self; it teaches the power of soul consciousness over body consciousness. Yogi Culture explores the effects of human consciousness and spiritual power on microbial growth and health, which physically manifests a more substantial number of polymers created in the cell wall of fungi.
To develop this project, Goel focused on using discarded flowers as the primary substrate for the microbial growth. Flowers are significant mediums in spiritual practice, and they are mass-produced using fertilizer and pesticides and land into water streams, contaminating the habitat of aquatic life. Pollution from discarded flowers also affects the health of our marine ecosystem. This effect motivated Goel to bring a change in the way spiritual institutions care about single-use flowers.
This fungi-flower hybrid grown material is a manifestation of consciousness through thoughts & feelings, leading to better choices & decisions. By using the power of mind over matter, the designer envisions it as a tool for aiding and rekindling our planet. The project is centred on three main pillars: collective consciousness, community as well as yogic agriculture and water consciousness.
Consciousness is the stage of awareness of the mind. Thoughts are drivers of our perception. Thoughts that create higher vibrations become affirmations. These affirmations are commonly known as blessings.
Collective Consciousness is a community-based routine practising one thought-one vision unanimously. It embodies consciously created visualizations into physical reality.
Goel is working with Brahma Kumari’s World Spiritual University, an international NGO “supporting the profound collective consciousness of cultivating the personal dignity of peace in every soul”. Yogi Culture engages with communities sensitive to global issues and meditative techniques. In this case, Goel’s peers from the Central Saint Martins’ Biodesign MA course are a suitable community and primary research group for experimenting with the project motives.
Yogic Agriculture and Water Consciousness
In research, Goel learned about Yogic agriculture from the “Sustainable Yogic Agriculture Internal Report”. The report’s leading researcher was Tamasin Ramsay, from Brahma Kumari at the United Nations in cooperation with the Rural Development Wing. Using a meditative methodology of manifestation called collective consciousness, they observed a substantial increase in the nutritional value of crops and their yields.
In 1999, Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto experimented with testing the effect of the energy of different words on water molecules. The test showed the formation and growth of crystals in response to the energy received through expressions of gratitude.
Inspired by the two research stories, Anushree’s ambition is to set a holistic realm towards “symbiocene” easing away the dire period of environmental crisis by empowering mind and spirit.Top: Work in progress in Bio-Design laboratory, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Bottom left: Work in progress in Bio-Design laboratory, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Bottom right: Under the Microscope, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Top: Anushree Goel, Microbial growth observation under the microscope, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Bottom left: Microbes observed in Bio-Design laboratory, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Bottom right: Bio-design Anushree Goel in the laboratory, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project.
Collective Consciousness Workshop
The Collective Consciousness Workshop of the Yogi Culture seeks to sensitize a group of bio-designers towards the vision of microbial revolution. It tests the power of mental energy created through physical evidence. The transition in the growth of fungi is proof of the influence of energy transfer from the human mind to matter. Through workshops, the meditative method of collective consciousness aids in channelling the energy created within into a physical reality.All images were taken in the Collective Consciousness Workshop held on 22 November, in Bio-Design studio Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2022. Courtesy of Yogi Culture Project. Images: Amanda Mu.
- Angelova, Galena, and Mariya Brazkova. “Waste Rose Flower and Lavender Straw Biomass—an Innovative Lignocellulose Feedstock for Mycelium Bio-Materials Development Using Newly Isolated Ganoderma Resinaceum GA1M.” Journal of Fungi, vol. 7, no. 10, 2021, p. 866., https://doi.org/10.3390/jof7100866.
- Ramsay, Tamasin. BRAHMA KUMARIS, New York, NY, 2013, Sustainable Yogic Agriculture.
3.Uplift1earth, director. Masaru Emoto’s Experiment in Gratitude. YouTube, YouTube, 14 Mar. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDNhH8deZPg. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.
The author is grateful for Amanda Jy Mu, and Jordan Murray for their constructive inputs and for their collective editorial inputs to this article. The author would like to thank Nancy Diniz – Course Leader MA Biodesign, Alice Taylor – Lecturer in Biology and Living Systems, Jon Flint – Lecturer in Design and Fabrication, Dominic Oliver – Graduate Teaching Assistant in Computational Design and Digital Fabrication, Paula Corsini – Specialist Grow Lab Technician, Shem Johnson – Specialist Grow Lab Technician as well as Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, their supports and feedbacks for the Yogi Culture Project.
All images copyright and courtesy of the artist/designer of Yogi Culture Project