I met with Neil yesterday and we talked about the properties of moss, lichen and fungi. There are 2 ways we can approach the construction of a "living fabric" for a gender-challenging suit or a death suit.
1. Affix the life-form to the surface
2. Use the organism to create a pliable structure
We talked about photosynthesis, used by lichen to nourish itself, and the lifestyle of fungus, which is to decompose the material it resides on. The thought that fungus eats its support leads towards the "death suit" and I was reminded of my interest in death rituals: burial customs and cemeteries. I feel conflicted about current funerary practices; preferring for myself a cremation and scattering of ashes, but also appreciating the reverence of a visit to those peaceful places where my ancestors rest. Some religious groups do not allow cremation (some Jewish and Islamic groups, among others) and so with population increasing, eco-friendly practices are gaining ground. Here is where we might draw attention to this by creating a garment/shroud that follows historical body-wrapping traditions. By impregnating it with compost starter, and placing the body in an eco-cemetery (see http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/standards/burial-grounds/), it will help the body break down more quickly, returning to "nature" and providing energy for new growth. This challenges the domination of nature that has been prevalent for too long.
That brings me to the other garment, the gender-challenge. Lichen grows very slowly, but is very desiccation-tolerant, in fact, it reproduces by fragmentation. I will try to make some paper by blending it up with some other fibers. That could be used to make the Fe/Male suit. I'm thinking about Batman (and other super heros), and how he had to put on the batman suit before he would have special powers. That might play in here somewhere.
If anyone is interested in either of these, or a similar project, please feel free to jump in with Hannah and me!