Are We Men or Are We Mushroom?
Did you know that mushrooms are more animal than they are plant? Many think of them as a sort of vegetable, but when it comes down to it, fungi have more in common with you and I than they do with any leafy green. I created this series of gifts with the intention of highlighting that surprising relationship. Each gif corresponds to a unique species of mushroom and, through the lense of an imagined character, reveals the nature or “personality” of that species.
Beginning with reference photos and a few odd facts, I created characters to represent the Hen of the Woods, Giant Puffball, Diamond Polypore, Fly Agaric, and Destroying Angel mushrooms. The most obvious identifying factors are the overall shape, color, and appearance of the characters. Notice that the body and “hair” of the Giant Puffball are the same bulbous mass as the surrounding reference photos. The skirt of the Destroying Angel is reminiscent of the frill found below the mushroom cap. Color is just as important. To prevent dull, identical palettes, I chose to exaggerate what hints of color were present and, in some cases, take a few artistic liberties. With its iconic appearance, the Fly Agaric needed little invention, but the Hen of the Woods—originally a drab and camouflaged mushroom—received a makeover to match his flamboyant personality.
Beyond illustrating the appearance, I added information about each species to construct deeper personalities. The Diamond Polypore, for example, is a mushroom guilty of causing decay in dry wood. Given this knowledge, the Diamond Polypore I created simply cannot seem to keep her log in one piece. Because of its hallucinogenic capabilities, the Fly Agaric hides a tab of acid. The Hen of the Woods is known as “the dancing mushroom,” and thus he grooves, eternally. By translating the scientific features of these species into familiar human actions, I further the connection between man and fungi, hoping to endear the audience to a less appreciated organism.
Each aspect of these gifs, from color to props to body shape, is chosen with the intent of humanizing an organism that is so similar to us, yet so misunderstood. Just as we humans are unique, so are mushrooms, and the differences between characters stand to remind the audience of that fact.