Dead Gods // First Resurection

Dead Gods

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mycelium, Pearl Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mycelium, Blue Oyster (Pleurotus columbinus) mycelium, Golden Oyster (Pleurotus citrinopileatus) mycelium, hemp and rye substrate, custom growhouse (shrine)

‘Dead Gods’ is an ongoing project in which I resurrect the prehistoric super-fungi the prototaxites by growing them from their living contemporary descendants. These repeated resurrections increase in size, number and sometimes species diversity for each iteration. These images show the second ressurection for which I worked with four species of mushrooms housed within an indoor shrine. The 
Dead Gods will eventually be resurrected to the scale of some of the largest prototaxites found in the fossil record (see Projects in Progress page). 

‘Dead Gods’ – a living monument that honors our prehistoric fungal ancestors as sacred earthly deities. 

Fungi is enmeshed through all ecosystems on our planet. They collaborate with every known life-form, they change our atmosphere over deep time by lowering CO2 and increasing oxygen levels, and act as a life-raft for other species during major extinction events. In a moment when we are collectively grappling with the likelihood that one million species will become extinct within decades, I am thinking about an ancient terrestrial fungi that gave rise to the vast diversity of plant and animal species that exist today. 

‘Dead Gods’ pays tribute to a specific prehistoric super fungi called the Prototaxite. Prototaxites were the largest living beings on land in the early Devonian period, growing to a staggering 20-30 feet tall. This evolutionary triumph gave rise to the billions of terrestrial life forms that followed. ‘Dead Gods’ enobles the Prototaxites, celebrating them as ancestral deities of life on this planet. 

For ‘Dead Gods’ MacEwan has been collaborating with modern-day mycelium descendants of the ancient fungi giants, to resurrect the Prototaxites. Reminiscent of a science-fiction narrative, reanimating these now extinct life-forms examines the utopic desire to reverse the inevitable process of extinction. The ‘Dead Gods’ can be seen living and dying inside the ‘Dead Gods Shrine’ – a placenta that helps them survive, protecting them from contemporary elemental forces, and protects us from inhaling their spores. 

We are amid the greatest collective trials our species has seen – intensified by uncertainty, fear of change, and a sense of profound loss. To revive our humanity in the face of ecological crises, our understanding of ‘we’ needs to extend beyond the human by recognizing our place as co-collaborators in the story of life on Earth. We can only truly know our human nature when we enrich our understanding of ourselves through the kinship we share with our interspecies siblings and ancestors. By honoring our interspecies ancestors, we acknowledge that the stewardship of life has always been an ecologically-shared responsibility through an ever evolving lineage.