Sinan Goral

MDes

Unearthing Technology: Teaching Mycelium through Counterfactual Design

Advised by Robert Pietrusko

A collectivized push toward anti-anthropogenic modernity calls for an educational model ingrained in environmentalism. This thesis calls on thoughtful teaching to reconsider how we study the climate crisis and what we societally value as progressive, responsible, and modern. Through the device of mycelium—a self-assembling material that promises complex futures—the research crafts an alternative, web-based design curriculum and syllabus that challenges our preconceptions of ecology, technology, and aesthetics.

The initial modules of the course rely on speculative reading and writing to investigate our brute-force pursuit of the human enterprise. After introducing mycelial phenomena and their potential for sustainable modernity, the curriculum transitions into constructivist, hands-on experimentation. Through three learning interfaces that unearth the empirical, computational, and geographical prowess of mycelium, students discover the technological advents of organic materials for themselves.

The final module encourages provocative storytelling and critical design, tasking students with narrating a mycelium-inspired intervention in history. Through counterfactualism—a thought experiment that upends the intransigence of the past— students tweak a historical event of their choosing and muse on mycelial futures that could have been. The course promotes this fictional exercise to clarify our misguided environmentalism and offers a means to amend the status quo through design agency. By temporarily venturing into unreality, students break free from the limiting assumptions set by people, politics, and time, empowering them with the tools they need to practice environmentalism and technologization in tandem.

Sinan Goral, MDes. Assemblage of digital and electronic tools and gauges. The curriculum urges learners to understand the world around them through hands-on interfacing.
Sinan Goral, MDes. Three physical interfaces allow learners to construct their own mycelial possibilities.

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