Nutrient Market

I’m a cheater, but it’s not that I can’t commit. I’m on the fringes, the third wheel in many love affairs between my green-leaved relatives and the fungi. It’s an intimate way of knowing, a relationship of presence and absence, the parasite’s kiss. I’m not one for calling after a date, I’ll give you that. I ghost my way through life, a haunting presence at a party no one quite remembers.

What do you do for a living, someone asks in passing, never too interested, never too keen on chatting for long. I’m a hacker, I often say. Or perhaps a miner, a data harvester, tapping wires for rubber or bitcoin or crude oil. Pushing up through the darkness in borrowed green drained to white.

Listening to whispers among the mycorrhiza, snatching tips and trade-offs. My nest of roots gently holding a mass of filaments, a tiny disruption, drawing off a small stream for myself. Just enough, no more. Come buy, come buy, then pass by. Delicious excrescence.

I don’t pay for my dinner; there’s always someone ready to pick up the bill. I’m flirtatious, really, but my advances go unnoticed. I’m just in the background, part of the network, part of the system. Extraction is my love language. A little water. A little sugar. A little data. Sucking out secrets; secretions.  

I’m the product of millions of years of changes, living my history into the present, spreading tentacular into the future. And out in the once-living places the information cloud solidifies into server farms and millions of milliseconds of data are held in taut suspension and the ice-cliffs drip into the sea ever faster and the air shimmers with digital heat. The past presses up hard against the aftertime. Parched and anxious, I sip and suck at the fungal strands, loving myself into the soil on which the green-leaved plants fed their hungry thirsty roots.

Everywhere and nowhere, I emerge only in the shadows, making ecologists uneasy. Escaping the bonds of taxonomy, but not in a way that suits the philosophers. They turn a well-practiced blind eye, a knowing wink that blinkers the argument into attractive rhetorical flourishes.

Myco-heterotroph, parasite, symbiont, spectre. Give me your dreams; I live by my hauntings.

Text:Anna Souter
Design: Chez Boris
Voice over: Luna Yves

Still taken from film