The Creeping Garden
Slime molds get no respect. This black sheep of the mycological world attracts little interest from researchers at the Fungarium, an archive of fungal specimens at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London. Their role in the environment hasn’t been identified, explains Head of Mycology Bryn Dentinger: “If slime molds were eliminated from the planet, we might not ever notice.” In The Creeping Garden, directors Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp aim to elevate this lowly organism by showing how it inspires scientists and artists alike.
Mold is spelled mould in this British documentary, and passion is encased in reserve. Grabham and Sharp explore slime molds with a dry wit, showcasing this byproduct of decay in sterile laboratories and shooting the creeping goo (like The Blob in miniature) with a Lynchian beauty. Time-lapse photography shows vibrant gelatinous slime molds pulsing with life, and microscopic views reveal flowing rivers of nuclei abruptly changing course. These unusual traits have inspired scientific experimentation, such as incorporating myxomycetes into computing systems and robotics, and artistic explorations that harness slime mold energy to create visual art and music.
Heady and rigorous, The Creeping Garden is an illuminating science documentary that tickles the imagination. Jim O’Rourke’s eerie sci-fi score emphasizes the otherworldly nature of the subject matter, while Grabham and Sharp demonstrate the influence of these magic myxies on radical thinkers and grounded admirers. With methodical calmness and obsessive enthusiasm, they make the case for slime mold as a primordial goop of invention.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on September 30, 2015 by Cinema Iloobia and Ryan Bruce Levey Film Distribution
First published in The Village Voice, 2015.