Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia.
In this third episode, writer, Daisy Hildyard speaks with marine microbiologist, Karen Lloyd about 100-million-year-old microbes, that breathe and excrete minerals. From the small town of Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, Lloyd describes her explorations into the permafrost sub surface – where she extracts living microbes that have not interacted with the surface for at least 10,000 years – and questions the possible importance of the individual microbe within its community. Considering time as a malleable resource, they discuss the possibilities of differing perceptions of time, space and motion on different lifespan scales: from the human and the unfathomably ancient. Interwoven with readings from Hildyard’s book, The Second Body, the conversation bridges possibilities of dialogue, connections and the refusal of rules between the organic and the non-organic, the living and the non-living.
Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible.
This series of podcasts traverses the slippery space between the organic and the inorganic. The conversations travel from remote Arctic tundra, where ancient creatures emerge from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed among the sludge of millennia-old microorganisms; outward to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust, full of life-giving potential; and back again.