Founder and Director, Infinity Burial Project Artist Advisor, Creative Capital Foundation Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society)
TED Creative Capital Foundation UC Berkeley
Jae Rhim Lee: My mushroom burial suit View talk on TED.com »
Infinity Burial Project
? – present
The Infinity Burial Project is a modest proposal for an alternative postmortem option which promotes and facilitates the process of corpse decomposition and toxin remediation. The Project features the training of existing edible mushrooms to decompose and remediate toxins in human tissue (Infinity Mushroom), the development of a decomposition 'kit' consisting of a cocktail of capsules which hold various decomposing organisms (Decompiculture Kit), burial suits embedded with decomposition activators, and a membership society (the Decompiculture Society) devoted to the promotion of death acceptance and the practice of decompiculture (the cultivation of decomposing organisms). The Infinity Burial Project's goals are threefold: 1) to develop an alternative to existing funeral practices which utilize energy and resources and attempt to preserve dead bodies with toxic chemicals, 2) challenge our cultural death denial, and 3) explore the relationship between death denial and environmental degradation in our postmortem practices.
Project Website »
04/01/2012 – present
The Infinity Burial Project's Decomp Me is an iPad app and an intervention (a Decompivention) that invites technocrats, Singularitarians, and the general public to face and accept death and decomposition. Decomp Me is an interactive, digital visualization of a user's face/body decomposing and transforming into clusters of Infinity Mushrooms. The app will guide the user to take a photo of the user's face, allow the user to 'spore' the image, and display an interactive, animated video of the user's face decomposing and transforming into mushrooms. Decomp Me serves as an invitation to become a Decompinaut, a member of the Decompiculture Society, a group which promotes intimacy with and acceptance of the physical realities of decomposition as vehicles toward death acceptance. The Society seeks to advance knowledge and awareness of postmortem options through research, education, and decompiculture: the cultivation of organisms that assist in metabolic decay.
Project Website »
Bio A: Jae Rhim Lee is a visual artist and designer whose living units, furniture, wearables, and recycling systems propose unorthodox relationships between the mind/body/self and the built and natural environment. She has been a consultant for the City of New Orleans’ disaster recovery office, a lecturer in visual art at MIT, and has studied art, permaculture, psychology, and the natural sciences. Lee is a recipient of a 2009 Creative Capital Foundation Grant (NY, USA), a 2010 Grant from the Institut fur Raumexperimente/Universitaet der Kunste Berlin (Germany), and a 2011 MAK-Schindler Scholarship. Lee is currently a Research Affiliate in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology in Cambridge, MA, where she explores recompisition, taking previously dead tissue and reanimating it through the use of tight-fitting meshes of high-voltage wire to create a reverse Farraday cage, energizing tissue by drawing in ambient energy. Bio X: I have taken over 15 personality tests and vocational inventories, read 20 self-help books, consulted 4 career counselors and 2 therapists, and attempted a range of careers in an effort to find a vocation perfectly matched to my interests and abilities. So far, I have learned that I strongly resemble a Navy general, I may have an aptitude for window dressing, I am an "idealist" and a "healer", and I am ill-suited for careers in academia, investment banking, medicine, social work, non-profit management, psychology, documentary photography, the military, tutoring, administration, research, retail, and telemarketing. My favorite hobby at age thirteen was regularly rearranging my bedroom furniture in the middle of the night. At fourteen, I moved my bedroom furniture to the basement, gave away most of my clothing and other belongings, and slept on the floor for eight months. In September 2003, I spent two weeks in silence, semi-isolation, and painful stillness while learning Vipassana meditation. Eight months later I built a "weightless" bed made of 10 separate pieces of wood molded to the negative spaces of my supine body.
My last meal, which would include Jajangmyun (chinese-korean noodle dish) and persimmons.
A funny story about me:
When I was younger I went on a solo month-long trip to China. Halfway across the Pacific Ocean, I realized I had failed to get a travel visa so I disembarked in Tokyo where my airline kindly re-routed me to Hong Kong. I spent the best week of my life attending Muslim Youth Summer Camp (happy to put aside my Southern Baptist upbringing), visiting Buddhist monuments, and eating delicious street noodles.