Zone of the Impending: A meal for an Earth turned toxic

Food Art Installation
Zone of the Impending explores artists’ interventions into the ecological and environmental crisis, proposing alternative strategies to the impending dangers that loom over human
existence.

Client

Parsons MFA D+T

Skills

Design Fiction
Food Design
Installation Art

Category

Art
BioArt
Installations
  • Meal for an earth turned toxic

  • First: Tetrahedron/Fire/Charcoal/Bitter/Heart

  • Second: Hexahedron/Earth/Meat&Plant/Salt/Kindey

  • Third: Octahedron/Air/Fabricated&3D/Sour/Liver

  • Fourth: Icosahedron/Water/Seaweed&Algae/Umami/Lungs

  • Fifth: Dodecahedron/Prana/Supersaturated/Sweet/Spleen

  • All Courses

If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe.– Carl Sagan

 Theme:

The earth is slowly turning toxic. Radiation levels in food and water are rising[i] and soon we will not be able to consume the food produced from the earth. And food is such an integral part, not only of our health and survival, but also our sense of community, our emotional welfare and sensory pleasure.

Current attempts to remedy the situation seem to be in two directions: going back to our roots and producing sustainable, natural alternatives to farming and production or finding technological ways such as genetically modification or nanotechnology to withstand toxic conditions, but both these options still produce substantial waste. Recently a so-called ‘organic’ Greek yoghurt was producing an alarming amount of toxic waste[ii]. And the verdict is still out on GM and nanotech, but our human track record has proven that our interventions often lead to system failures. So what do we do when this day arrives?

How do we nourish, heal and give pleasure to the body, heart and mind of the fragile, toxic bodies of the future?

This project aimed to answer this question.And I do believe this is a design problem as the future of food lies in the creative hands of man.

First: Tetrahedron/Fire/Charcoal/Bitter/Heart

First: Tetrahedron/Fire/Charcoal/Bitter/Heart

 Objectives:

  1. To use actual food where possible to show the reality of what we might expect in the future.
  2. To show the importance of food production as a design discipline and might be more so in the future as we need to design not only the nutritional aspect of food, but also the emotional, aesthetic and social aspects that go along with this.
  3. Plan a meal that would provide more than just nourishment but will boost health, detoxification and healing.
  4. To consider the sensory satisfactions of food and how this informs the social, recreational and emotional aspect of eating.
  5. To create a utopic, not dystopic view of potential positive influences in food culture as we move to a world where we might give nature a break in creating our own food.
  6. To consider new technologies in preparing foods.
  7. To stimulating conversation by showing the effects of our choices in every day life in our homes and not on global level as the media does.
Second: Hexahedron/Earth/Meat&Plant/Salt/Kindey

Second: Hexahedron/Earth/Meat&Plant/Salt/Kindey

Data collection & research:

With the data available to me, it became clear that even the staples foods that we currently rely on to feed the masses will eventually become depleted. Foods like pasta, wheat, beer, rice, fruit, vegetables and potatoes are set to become endangered in the future[iii].  The alternative that could provide nourishment includes algae, artificial meat, insects; patented GMO seeds, cross-pollination and 3D printed food[iv].

The menu of the future doesn’t sound too appetizing. So are there other ways to heal the heart, nourish the soul and bring pleasure to the body?

Approach to project:

Three big questions formed the basis of this project.

  1. Is food the only way of nourishing, pleasuring and healing a living being?
  2. What role do the senses play in this?
  3. What and how should we then plan the menu?

I started with the knowledge that certain Eastern spiritual practices such as Taoism, Hinduism and many others speak of healing properties of breathing, chanting and meditations or visualizations.

Eating (and sex) are the only activities that engage all the senses and this way brings more than just nourishment to the body. So the project began around the investigation of the senses and how they inform our enjoyment of food and if the wisdom of alternative thinking could improve on the sensory and physical impact that food has.

The investigation led me down the spiral of Alchemy, Plato’s sacred geometries, the Flower of Life, Taoism, Megatron’s cube, Fibonacci and Pythagoras. I found one too many parallels in this research and mathematics, mysticism and health all started aligning and I used this as a premise from which to design a meal.

Fourth: Icosahedron/Water/Seaweed&Algae/Umami/Lungs

Fourth: Icosahedron/Water/Seaweed&Algae/Umami/Lungs

These are the particular areas of interest that informed my design:

  1. Taste:
  • There are 5 tastes we are able to perceive: Bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami.
  • These tastes according to Ayurveda nourish a certain part of the body and should be eaten in equal amounts to balance the body.

   2. Sound:

  • Taoist practices advocate 5 sounds that we need to create through breathing that cleans and nourishes certain parts of the body. The same parts the 5 tastes nourishes.
  • An ancient tone of harmonics called the Solfeggio Harmonics where once used as Gregorian chants (and was phased out by the catholic church) to not only purify feelings of guilt and anger, but also cleans and heal the body. The 5th tone in the harmonic scale is 528 Hz and modern science has proven that this actually heals broken DNA. The structure of the harmonics mathematically relate back to the Flower of life, Fibonacci and the Platonic Solids.
  1. Sight
  • The Flower of life is an ancient symbol that has been used by mystics to explain the existence of the earth as it forms a symbolic blueprint of the key building block of the earth: the 5 Platonic Solids that Plato mathematically derived from this image and they in turn represent the 5 elements of the earth.  The symbols play a significant role in spirituality as seen in the Star of David, Metatron’s Cube and numerous other examples.

It also forms the basis of many mathematical theorems such as the Fibonacci spiral, the golden mean and was studied by Plato, Pythagoras and Leonardo Da Vinci.

  • Meditation as a way to calm the mind. Visualization supports with this process.
  • Using the sacred geometries to inform meditation might have a positive impact on moving forward, whether you believe in the esoteric or just use it as a intriguing visual aesthetic, it will hopefully stimulate thought around who we are, where we came from and especially where we are heading.
  1. Touch
  • Food is pleasant not only for the taste, but also the tactility of the food and this is a large part of the sensual pleasure of food. Artificially created food should take this into account.
  1. Smell:
  • Without smell, we cannot taste, see item 1.
  • Smell should not be overlooked for its emotional impact either; smell can remind us of memories long forgotten and enhances the current memories of our social engagement while we are eating.
Third: Octahedron/Air/Fabricated&3D/Sour/Liver

Third: Octahedron/Air/Fabricated&3D/Sour/Liver

The Project:

The overlaps in my research with regards to mathematics, spirituality, science and health were startling and I am not an esoteric person.  I realized that the work needed to be a ceremony where the food is consciously eaten in a way that promotes health, stimulates thought but still pleases the senses.

The Number 5 also featured prominently and I decided to the use this to define the stages of the ceremony. Each stage or courses would comprise of a type of food that represents the platonic solid, the element, the taste, the area of the body it affects and the sound to activate this area. (See table below.)

COURSESOLIDELEMENTFOODTASTEBODYBREATH
FirstTetrahedronFireCharcoalBitterHeartHaw
SecondHexahedronEarthMeat & PLANTSaltyKidney/BLADDERChoo
ThirdOctahedronAirNew foodSourLiverShhh
FourthIcosahedronWaterSeaweed/algaeUmamiLungsSsss
FifthDodecahedronEther/PranaTowerSweetSpleen/pancreasWhoo

The choice of food is as follows:

    1. Charcoal: Detoxifier to cleanse the body of toxicity that it might have come into contact with.
    2. Meat and plant based food: Lab grown meat and plant food that still represents the ‘old’ foods we were accustomed too.
    3. Fabricated food/3D printed food that has no connection to the past, but provides vital nutrients. The possibilities are endless.
    4. Algae/seaweed/biologically harvested foods/aquaponics that can be grown in our future homes. Self-sustaining and provides a natural plant based food to our diet.
    5. Self-actuating food: Food that can be grown instantaneously through nanotechnology and biotechnology.

The Ceremony Art Installation

  1. The food would be consumed in 5 courses to follow on the table above. This will provide each part of the body with vital health, nutrients and healing while providing a holistic view on how we fit into the world, and that we are part of a system.
  2. Each plate is separately represented on a larger serving tray that represents the Fruit of Life.
  3. The 6th circle which is usually empty in the Fruit of Life representations will show a projection of which course is to follow. Invoking the essence of each platonic solid and what it represents
  4. The Taoist 6 healing sounds will be uttered before each meal is to be consumed.
  5. There would be a meditative visual to watch while eating that expands on the notion of the Flower of life.
  6. The ceremony will be accompanied by the 582Hz Solfeggio harmonics to heal the body.

Fifth: Dodecahedron/Prana/Supersaturated/Sweet/Spleen

Fifth: Dodecahedron/Prana/Supersaturated/Sweet/Spleen

The technology:

  1. The food will be 3D printed, cooked by the sun or self-heating.
  2. Utensils will have scent activators to accompany to provide smell to potentially unseasoned food.

The project aims to start a conversation around the future of food and how we are not only ruining our planet with toxicity, but also our bodies, our minds and our souls (if the souls exists).

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