2086 Field trip & picnic – what a day!

Meeting point at Nida carpark

After many weeks traipsing through the dunes, forest and beach of the Curonian Spit, collecting spruce shoots, nettles, raspberry leaves and mosquito bites, talking to local biologists and foragers, concocting jellies and pancakes and fermented sodas, we finally hosted this year’s annual field trip & picnic on 22 June 2086!

Thanks to everyone who came along – amateur lichenologists, artists, interpagans and everything in between. For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed out on this special bumper edition (back on Lithuanian soil for the first time in decades!), here’s a taste of what the Society got up to.

Follow the fish!

Toasting the locally extinct arctic raspberry, and the miraculously alive-and-well wild strawberry, with wild strawberry kvass (fermented soda).

UFO landing site: space lichen, astrobiology and Cold War luxuries.

Blinis with un-caviar. Each amateur lichenologist dollops a spoonful of un-caviar onto a neighbour’s blini while saying ‘kosmičeskije sso-sstanivlenija‘ (‘in cosmic co-becomings’).

Flummery! Made with agar and blueberries from the old forest. With a side of Permian mass extinction and microplastic futures.

The Great Tuning Fork

A full report from the Society will be published in the forthcoming Nida Art Colony Log: On Rites and Terrabytes, due for release later this year.

Big cheers to Sepideh Ardalani for helping with food wizardry, Diana Pusko for foraging advice, the interpagan intentional community for their extraordinary un-caviar, and Nida Art Colony for letting us crash their symposium! See you somewhere else next year!

Have you seen this fish?

This year the Amateur Lichenologists Society was invited to have a presence in Vilnius, with the opportunity to show some work alongside Žilvinas Landzbergas in the Vilnius Academy of Arts Glass Pavilion, as part of the exhibition Teleport to Nida.

That’s our life-size baltic sturgeon on the glass (long ago extinct in the wild), the exact length of the last one caught in the Baltic Sea. Here also is the text that went along with the display:

“Did you know that the iconic Baltic Sturgeon is considered a ‘living fossil’ that was for a short time extinct here in Lithuania? The Sturgeon’s ancestors survived ‘the Great Dying’ (the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event) some 200 million years ago, in which 96% of marine life disappeared. In 1996 the last wild specimen of this prehistoric fish to be found in the Baltic Sea was hauled out at a remote island in Estonia, 2.9 metres long and weighing 136 kg. In 2057, after decades of a committed reintroduction program, healthy adults born in captivity and released into the Neman River were once again observed at the Curonian Spit, leaping from the water in what some believe is a kind of communion with their oddly kindred space lichen.”



Plastic smog in the ocean
Watch Heather Davis here: https://vimeo.com/158044006

And also ‘Davis_ToxicProgeny_philoSOPHIA_2015’ in the Keybase Bibliothek

Re plastics entering the food chain. I think in the video Davis mentions the presence of micro-plastics in sea salt. Yesterday as I was setting up supplies, I forgot to buy salt. I found a little in the kitchen, but also thought…well we’re on a lagoon, I’ll try to extract some. Perhaps this can be put to use in the picnic, as a means to confront this form of toxicity? I tried extracting some today, it will take a fair bit more water than the litre or so I collected at ‘Terminal Beach’

I found a technique for extracting salt from seawater on a preppers’ blog about survival techniques for when ‘the shit hits the fan’ (TSHTF). LOL: Salt and Preppers.

Irony: I’m not sure if this is something Anna Tsing recalled, but around the time of her talk at HKW I heard anecdote about a family who lived near the forest in Ukraine. They would forage for mushrooms and berries to eat, except for one of the children who would only eat McDonalds or something similar. He was the only member of the family that did not develop cancer from consuming radioactive food.

Humour: Povinelli also mentions Aboriginal peoples’ use of humour to mediate horrific experiences. Something I learned of also in Mexico where it was confirmed to me that the narcos were crass, but also creative and often funny.

  • Catherine Malabou on Plasticity

* Also think about Povinelli’s discussion of ‘Toxic sovereignty’.

Pinar Yoldas, An Ecosystem of Excess:

So I asked: What would happen if life started in the ocean now? Which of course is happening anyway, since new life-forms are added to the world every day. What if new creatures emerged that could live off of plastics? I challenged myself to design a new ecosystem of plastics. Clearly I’m interested in synthetic biology as a methodology, and in where biology is headed. I see biology as ideology.

Through that device, I was able to talk about the fact that bottle caps are thought to kill 100,000 birds a month, or something like that. They are birds’ number-one enemy. I designed a turtle that eats balloons to talk about this phenomenon of balloon pollution in the Pacific, since it turns out turtles prefer to eat balloons. Each creature had a framework for talking about how organisms today are being affected by the plastisphere. So there’s a stomach that can digest sixteen types of plastics, and a kidney to talk about BPAs that leech into the sea.

I’m looking at these extremities where life is challenged in unforeseen ways thanks to the emergence of mankind. (vis-á-vis Life producing Life, Nonlife producing Nonlife re Povenelli)

The definition of design has to change. We need subversive objects to create a discourse, not to solve a problem.




Toxic Ecologies / Toxic Sovereignties:

cokecanreefdreaming Karrabing


Amber / Plastiglomerate

“As petroleum came to the relief of the whale,” stated one pamphlet advertising celluloid in the 1870s, so “has celluloid given the elephant, the tortoise, and the coral insect a respite in their native haunts; and it will no longer be necessary to ransack the earth in pursuit of substances which are constantly growing scarcer.”

The few minutes or days in which it might be used as a takeaway container, a lighter, or a toothpaste tube belies both the multimillion-year process of its making, and the tens of thousands of years it is expected to last before breaking down, finally, into its molecular compounds.

‘Mermaids tears’

‘Strange attractor’

…perhaps we can find in the chemical chains of synthetic polymers melded with the craggy scraps of sand a useful theoretical model of the molecular, in line with that of the plant-life rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari) that so dominated Anglo scholarship in the 1990s and 2000s.



According to Tsing, ‘eviscerated stomachs’ that break down minerals and enabled plants to migrate from water to land!