Friday, October 25, 2019

Ghost Food

This came out a while ago (2013), but I thought it would be a good time of year to remind everyone.

Imagine a future where the culinary pleasures of your youth no longer exist in their native form. We already hear talk of things like chocolate and even coffee being endangered by a combination of climate change and our consumer economy.

It's hard to imagine a future like this, because you know that we, the ingenious monkeys that we are, would never let it happen. A sensory art duo teamed up to start the process of solving this future problem.

The instigators here were Miriam Simun, who made ricotta cheese from human breastmilk, and Miriam Songster, an olfactory artist with an extensive body of work (and who also contributed to the book Designing with Smell AND worked on the smellscapes project started by the late Kate MacLean.)

Maybe you think people should have better things to do than to solve problems that don't really exist yet, but hey, that's what art is for; Not to create problems, but to help us to see better the world we're already in. And as the wise and every prescient David Byrne has said ~ "It's not that artists are ahead of their time, it's just the rest of us are behind."*

Escaping the inevitable with a Direct Olfactory Stimulation Device.

The technology developed here, and pictured above, is called a Direct Olfactory Stimulation Device, and it is supposed to provide a "simulated flavor experience" for foods that may one day be threatened by extinction.

Chocolate, peanut butter, and deep-fried Cod fish were the focus foods. If you think one of these is not like the others, you're right. This food truck was stationed in Newark, New Jersey (among other locations), and for the strong Portuguese population there, Cod is an important culinary component.

The "food" was built on a base of climate change-resilient ingredients, because the idea is that we're already in the future, and this is how we deal.

People lined up to get fitted with their sensory stimulator, and took time to give their impression. Here's one I thought was really good, "If it was an exact replica, there would be no moment of realization of potential loss, and the project a failure - "I guess climate change isn't so bad..." .  You can get more responses here.

Overall I see this as a great work of olfactory science fiction, a subgenre that is mostly vacant, yet fertile for exploration.

*This is heavily paraphrased, and also attributed to David Byrne although someone else before him should probably get credit.

What would you do in a world without cod, chocolate, or peanut butter?
By Adi Robertson, The Verge, 2013

2013, Edible Geography

Edited by Victoria Henshaw, Kate McLean, Dominic Medway, Chris Perkins, Gary Warnab
Taylor and Francis, 2018

Post Script:
I thought this was a really good idea - Ode is a product that distributes scents into a room before mealtime to stimulate appetites in older folks.

And I thought this was pretty ridiculous. Once in a while I try to search something that couldn't possibly be a thing, like "human chocolate" and then I get this:

Human Chocolate Fountain

No comments:

Post a Comment