The Creeping Garden is an introduction to the mysterious world of myxomycetes, or plasmodial slime moulds. They are all around us in the natural world, but we remain blithely indifferent to each other's presence. And yet small groups of scientists, artists, musicians and visionaries have begun to find within the intriguing behavioural patterns of this peculiar life form extraordinary metaphors that seem to belong to the world of science fiction, inspiring practical applications such as powerful computing devices, transport network designs and robot controllers.
These strange organisms shift in form throughout several distinct phases of their existence. As colonies of microscopic creeping or swimming swarm cells, they forage for food in any type of dead plant material. When they have exhausted the available sustenance, the individual cells aggregate into the mobile plasmodial phase, clustering to form a larger body encased in gelatinous slime that crawls to new ground.
The slime mould's visible phases are often astonishingly beautiful, manifesting themselves as filigrees of sulphurous-coloured threads, scarlet globules, ochre crusts, or as clusters of individual fruiting bodies resembling tiny mushrooms or pinheads, from which its spores are released.
This lavishly-illustrated companion to documentary of the same name is a layperson's entry point into the world of the slime mould, providing an insight into the modus operandi of the film's makers and the perceptual world of the organism, in which intelligence is redefined.
Watch the documentary trailer below:
Jasper Sharp is an author, filmmaker, critic and curator based in London. Internationally regarded for his work on Japanese cinema, he is the co-founder of the Midnight Eye website. His book publications include The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (2003), joint-authored with Tom Mes, Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema (2008) and The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema (2011). As well as possessing a keen amateur interest in mycology, his research interests include the history of production and exhibition technologies, and has a PhD in ‘Japanese Widescreen Cinema: Commerce, Technology and Aesthetics’.
Tim Grabham is a filmmaker, visual artist and animator based in London. His background of music performance recording and composition is instrumental in the approach, subject matter and audio aesthetics of his work. After 10 years of live visual and analogue projection installations and experiments across the UK and Europe, he established the independent studio ‘cinema iloobia’ www.iloobia.com in 2003. As well as directing music videos and editing feature documentaries including Bassweight (2010), the award-winning Soka Afrika (2011) and The Fade (2013), he has made KanZeOn (2011), a sensory exploration of sound in Japan co-directed Neil Cantwell.
"An essential reminder of how peculiar subjects can be as entertaining as any psycho thriller [...] Who knew fungal gunk could be so rapturous to behold?"
– Steve Dollar, Indiewire
"Imagine if Stanley Kubrick and Douglas Trumbull were tasked with making a 1970s educational science film about the pods from Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you're some way to understanding The Creeping Garden."
– James Marsh, Twitchfilm