The Creeping Garden is a documentary about the strange, alien-like substance that is plasmodial slime mould. For a long time, slime mould was thought to be a fungus, but researchers have found out that it’s something very different: a eukaryotic organism that is neither plant nor animal. It can move, and apparently it has some ability to think—for example, planning and executing a move towards a food source.
In this new movie, slime mould is explored through various mycologists, scientists and artists who research or use the substance in their artwork. It covers the history of how it was discovered, and the experiments people are doing today—such as generating sounds from electrically stimulating it and using it as the basis of robotic engineering experiments. The filmmakers play around with the very science fiction-esque aspects of slime mould (it resembles The Blob or Invasion of the Body Snatchers in its movements), especially understanding how its primitive intelligence works.
It clearly should have been a 50-minute documentary but it feels like it has been stretched out to around 80. The footage of the actual slime moulds, however, is amazing. The score is by Jim O’Rourke, a sometime Sonic Youth member who has been doing film scores for awhile. It definitely adds to the sci-fi feeling. In sum, it’s an interesting film that may not have mass appeal, but you should give it a shot.
The Arrow disc includes a commentary from the filmmakers, some additional short films and featurettes, three Cinema Iloobea short films, and more animated slime moulds from artist Angela Mele. O’Rourke’s soundtrack is available on cd in the limited edition version, which also includes a booklet as well in the first pressing version.