Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

John Arndt’s
Kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics

June 29, 2006

Kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics, John Arndt

If Mother Nature had designed a kitchen…

The Kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics uses natural phenomenon normally taken for granted like gravity, evaporation, plant growth, static electricity, decomposition and digestion as mechanical elements in a holistic kitchen design. Water dripping off freshly cleaned dishes falls like raindrops onto the herbs growing below the dish rack. Unglazed ceramic food containers become cooler when they get wet from the drops of water from freshly washed dishes above. The water evaporates, cooling the interior of the container. Composted material is thrown into a garbage disposal governed by worms, to be turned into the rich castings that will grow the next month’s fresh herbs all over again. Nature’s mechanisms are integrated to create a flow of process uncommon in conventional kitchens.

kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics, John Arndt, flowjars

In fact ‘Flow’ is the name Arndt gave to the family of products that work best as parts of the larger system. For the kitchen to work for you, you must use it. This may be the only kitchen you will ever meet that actually depends upon you to feed it, water it, let it grow, harvest it, eat it, get it really dirty, create some garbage in it and wash it for it to function optimally. This may be the only kitchen you will ever meet that will miss you when you’re gone and will wilt if you go away on an extended holiday, hungering for your return. The Kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics is definitely Nature at its most gratifying.

Kitchen of Terrestrial Mechanics, John Arndt, flow

debra at 18:14 | Comments (0) | post to

Autistic chocolate

© Ann de Gersem
Chocolate hat © Ann de Gersem, photo C. Baele

A pink chocolate teapot hat? Pistachio green chocolate teacups with fur and pink foil? Dark chocolate whiskey snifter crystal ashtray bling? Ann de Gersem, a Design Academy Eindhoven MFA student graduates today with a collection of chocolate objects she designed in collaboration with the autistic employees of a Belgian chocolate factory. De Gersem, who isn’t autistic, wondered if the way autistics think could serve as a departure from conventional design methodology. Could autistic thinking lead to a new form of authenticity in design?

© Ann de Gersem
Chocolate hat © Ann de Gersem, photo C. Baele

De Gersem’s project, primarily the bit about designing within a culture that is not accepted as normative culture, the culture of autism, has broad implications. De Gersem’s Au(then)tism collection offers a visual language created in collaboration outside the culture of the neurologically typical. Writer, curator and activist, Ine Gevers wrote about this in 1999 in her essay, (En)countering the Culture of the Norm, for a one day seminar of the self-same title initiated by artist collective de Geuzen. Autists, according to Gevers, can be defined as those who are differently brained and whose language and/or (social) behavior deviates from the norm. By working with autistic people, de Gersem touches on the heart of what it means to design for ‘normative culture’ and therefore strikes at the heart of what is generally practiced as design.

Speaking of ‘normal’, normally designers graduate from design schools and get to work designing landfill as quick as you can say, ‘industrial designers should be more proactive in altering their practice of designing the Himalayas of waste’. But this is what I love about de Gersem’s approach. It’s not so much that her chocolate objects are ephemeral (discouraging the production, acquisition and accumulation of thingie-thingies), but that the method of their concepting and manufacture is designed to occur within the context of heterogeneity. In striving for authenticity, de Gersem embraces pure difference as a design technique. Design for differentnesss.

 © Ann de Gersem
Frieda pours warm milk from a chocolate teapot © Ann de Gersem, photo C. Baele

Ine Gevers continues,

© Ann de Gersem
Dark and milk chocolate whiskey snifter ashtray bling © Ann de Gersem, photo C. Baele

So can we think of autsism as a culture? That’s a fiddly question! Read the front page of any newspaper anwhere at any time to smell the fetid disagreement about what a culture is or what should be its defining characteristics. The smartypants-hive-brain that is Wikipedia thinks thusly:

© Ann de Gersem
Nelly and Wies in the salon © Ann de Gersem, photo C. Baele

If you still think de Gersem’s work is about autistic people, why don’t you substitute the word ‘autistic’ in this entry for Kurdish or Palestinian or Kirghizian or Afro-American or Afro-Carribic or Islamic or Syrian Christian or Sikh or Chicano or even Anorexic and you will immediately understand that designing with and for subcultures is a really hot issue. The autistics must be nodding Mona Lisa smiles at the notion of being the poster-child of this positively radical (design) notion. What page of the Talmud was it that says, ‘Culture is difference’?

(Please

debra at 1:20 | Comments (5) | post to

A recipe for Terrine Geologique

June 27, 2006

Rainbow Terrine

Although June is internationally recognised as the month of striation and I’ve been determined to pay hommage, I’m starting to feel like a 1980’s Romanian dictator, force-feeding nut-cheese recipes to her people. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling guilty about taking so long to write that entry about Ceaucescu, textured soy and the Romanian Otaku exhibition over at Mediamatic. Any day now. And after this one, I swear I mean I promise to stop with the nut cheese photographs. I’m just trying to be thorough.

Rainbow Terrine

Recipe after the jump. Vroom vroom!
(Please

debra at 23:17 | Comments (0) | post to

| Next Page »

culiblog is a registered trademark of Debra Solomon since 1995. Bla bla bla, sue yer ass. The content in this weblog is the intellectual property of the author and is licensed under a Creative Commons Deed (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5).