Day 21 11am

Add signage, water and mister. Installation complete

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Some drip is occuring. A small bit has fallen off.

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Day 21 7am

Installation day. Dawn.

I use my hands to put the floury clag on the wall. This is very tactile. The scrape of the wall, the cold wet stickiness of the clag.
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A security guard wants to know if I’m going to clear up the mess.

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A cleaner wants to know if I’m going to clean up the mess.

Now putting the curds onto the clag.

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30 litres of milk have reduced to less than a square meter of wall.

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The surface glistens. Bits of muck from the wall have embedded themselves. The edge is rough, like a handmade cheese.

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Send out call for community help via Michael howard to all Landscape students. message read:

Subject: Help grow mould

Hi all,

Mould-growing art experiment (blue cheese, penicillium roqueforti) needs help staying damp!

Please help by spraying the installation if you happen to be passing by — it’s in University Way, the small lane parallel to and east of Bowen lane. Water provided!

Leave a comment on the blog at http://adrian.edublogs.org/

For more info: Adrian Marshall, ajm@unimelb.edu.au

Thanks!

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Day 20

Have had to spray curds often to stop them drying out and yet they do anyway. Well adhered to wall. No sign of mould. House is toasty warm from the heater being on 24 hours a day.

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If the mould successfully grows, this will be art that contains the seeds of its own destruction.

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Day 17

Make trial paste for adhering curds to wall. The curds knit together, into a loose mass, and I have to break them up. I make the paste out of self-rising flour (all I’ve got, I’ll get plain flour for the real thing if this works out) and water until it is quite thick and choose the stucco wall in the kitchen/living area because it has more tooth and I’m being a bit of an optimist – or I don’t want too much dissapointment too soon. I make two small 10cm diameter circles with the paste on the wall, then I break some curds into 5-10mm pieces and try pressing them into the paste of one of the circles. The smaller pieces stick better, so I break some down into 3mm pieces and they adhere much better.

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After 20 mins the second clag circle has set a bit, and I break some curds into the smallest pieces I can (1-3mm) and they adhere even better.

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For a third test, I mix more fine curd with the flour paste and then press that mixture onto the wall. The mix sticks well, but the burds are not visible, not seen as seperate from the paste, and I don’t like this option as much.

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Day 16

Tired from lack of sleep. A friend doing her honours in glass-making sends me a link to her blog site (http://deniseh.edublogs.org/). More of my life joining this project.

I begin this blog.

Later, I wash my hands in bleach solution again and inspect the curds. They’ve knitted together into a rough blunt cylinder in the bucket. I break the mass down into 2cm pieces, drain off some more whey, and put it back in front on the heater for some more tlc.

Sterilising: Throughout all this process has been the constant awareness of invisibility, of transferance. I touched the edge of the bucket, which was no longer sterile, so I had to wash again before touching the cheese. The cheese is touched by air, an invisible substance itself that carries on it, in it, as part of itself, other invisible things, yeasts and moulds.

Sterilisation is an attempt at selection, a purity before the work is exposed on a wall.

There are about 12 trillion cells in a human body. Of those, an incredible 11 trillion are bacteria.

Of the one trillion left over that are “truly” human, in each of those is the mitochondria, an organelle vital for the cell’s function that has its own dna and that is the remnant of an ancient bacteria that lived in symbiosis with our primal soup ancestors.  

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Day 15

Make cheese.

Buy 30 litres of milk at Coles and run into old friends I have seen much of since seperating from my ex. For of my life accreting to this project.

I go wild with mould, putting in far more than I would if I was making a normal cheese.

Seven hours later, 2am, I have a bucket of curds. I leave it in front of the heater and go to bed. I want to establish as much growth as possible before putting the cheese up on the wall. You have to give your children a good start in life.

Here are some pictures.

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Everything has to be thoroughly sterilised. My hands will smell of White King for 24 hours…

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The milk in the double boiler.

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Rennet is added to the milk to set it. Its texture will become a bit like jelly.

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After the milk is set, it is cut with a knife – or in my case a 600mm steel ruler because I don’t have a knife long enough – into 2cm pieces. This causes the whey to seperate from the curds. The seperation is aided by gentle stirring each ad break for one and a half episodes of Sex and the City. The whey has a greenish colour, as you can see, and the curds settle to the bottom.
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Pouring the whey off, leaves the curds.
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The cat likes the whey. When i lived with Lisa, I used to give leftover whey to the chooks.

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I heat most of the why almost to boiling, add vinigar, and the last of the milk solids sperate out. Voila! – ricotta! A by-product of art.
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The curds in a bucket, warm in front of the heater.

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Day 14

I get my spores from work. My co-workers had kindly placed them in the fridge.

A number of realisations:

This is an artwork that consumes itself. Literally self-digesting. Its recontextualisation – cheese being made outside in perverse conditions – has created a situation where rather than humans consuming the cheese, the cheese consumes itself.

The meaning of this project is growing. it is accreting meaning to itself. Ideas blooming like contaminant moulds.

I am still working with death. Decay and transformation. My mother’s ashes.

All my life is being dragged into this. My mother, my ex, my acts of self-definition…

The cheese will have to be kept wet. I will have to spray it regularly. Perhaps ask other people to spray it as well. The project is becoming a community act.

How am I going to keep the cheese on the wall? A chook wire reinforcing? A rabbit skin glue base? hesian? A roof to keep the rain off? Originally I though of just adding flour to the curds to make a claggy paste, but I am having doubts.
Formal purity: no wire. just flour. Cheesemakers sometimes dust the outside of washed-rind cheeses with flour to make their sticky surfaces easier to handle.

Visiting the site again, I realise the wall is not at all damp, it only looks damp. My heart sinks. i also realise someone else has used the space for an installation in the past. There are small plaques with crudely etched labels such as “med. air” and “oxygen”, though it is impossible to know to what objects these labels refer. A frind told me she saw the whole space filled with yellow ping pong balls once, she stopped and stared for ages.

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Day 13

I realise I have no blue mould spores. I have never made a blue cheese. How could I have thought I had? Swept up in my own story, I had convinced myself…

I ring the cheese supply people I deal with. I tell them I’m a landscape architect wanting to make a wall of blue cheese. The woman, Julie, takes it completely in her stride and answers my questions. She thinks I am a landscape artist. I don’t correct her. She tells me to keep the humidity high. I buy some blue mould spores – penicillium roquefortii – and have them express posted to my work.

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Day 12

I better get a move on. This will be presented in about three weeks, but they want to see results sooner than that. It’s winter. Will the mold grow fast enough? It only takes a week or so to get a camembert covered in a thick white fur. But conditions are different. Outside, exposed to the elements. Will rain wash it off? Will animals or birds eat it all?

I need my bacteria. I need my cheesemaking equipment. The equipment is under my mother’s house, in storage – I am house-minding at the moment, after seperating from my partner of eight years, Lisa. My bacteria are still in Lisa’s fridge, in the freezer. I phone her. We talk a little. She says she will leave them out in the letterbox late tonight. I phone my mum. Late evening I go out there and, stooped beneath her house, sort through my life until I find what I need.

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