Jeremy Speed Schwartz
Degenerative Cultures


Degenerative Cultures creates a “biohybrid” network in that living microorganisms and artificial intelligence work together. The resulting system makes visible those entropic patterns in human culture that have carried us into the Anthropocene. This bio-digital system maps and corrupts the predatory knowledge frameworks that have consistently driven how humanity deals with nature.

In an interactive installation, physical books documenting the human impulse to control and reshape nature are used as the substrates for fungal cultures. The book that is the substrate is literally eaten by fungi. The text is destroyed in a physical sense, and this destruction is visible through the redaction or disappearance of legible text on the surface of the pages.

This data corruption is analyzed by a computer vision program and communicated with algorithmically generated tweets and their automated readouts The computer-based interface analyzes the living microorganisms’ growth and feeds a [de]generative algorithm based in natural language processing. This bio-digital agent searches the Internet for texts that follow similar predatory patterns. Just as the physical book is consumed by the microbiological culture, the digital database is corrupted by the degenerative algorithm.

The story of this fungal colonization of human knowledge is documented in readouts of the twitter feed of @HelloFungus, which is printed out continuously on-site on a miniature thermal printer. Through this “bhiobrid” network, the bio-digital fungi respond to Internet users’ mentions, engaging people in the spreading of these “digital spores”.

The Fungal Twitter Feed


Awards and Nominations:
Lumen Prize for Artificial Intelligence in Digital Art

Generative Art Conference, Biblioteca Calssense, Ravena, Italy, 2017.
Codame Art + Tech Festival, The Midway, San Francisco, CA, 2018
Uncommon Natures, Phoenix Brighton, Brighton UK, 2018

Cesar Baio
Lucy HG Solomon

Node Red