Cosmopolitics of Food Interactions: Design Fiction on Food Cults

We will build design prototypes and document design fiction related to future “diet-tribes” and “food-cults” that use emergent technologies for novel dining and social practices related to food.
Dates: 
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 10:00 - 18:00
Secret Cooks Dinner Sous Vide Dinner in Singapore
Authors: 
Denisa Kera
Authors: 
Marc Tuters

Workshop Leader: Denisa Kera, denisa [at] nus.edu.sg
2nd Leader: Marc Tuters, mtuters [at] gmail.com

In this workshop we would like to rethink the relation between food and technology and experiment with future metabolic exchanges that are biological, technological and political at the same time. From global supply chains to bodily metabolic exchanges eating involves political, technological, biological but also social acts that cut across various scales and form complex systems of relations and interdependencies. American fast food soliloquies, communal and family organized meals, the street-food culture of Singaporean “hawker” stalls, European restaurant enclaves for small elites and community pubs represent the complex relation between technological, political and economic systems involved in eating. These eating practices and systems are changing nowadays with the rise of social media, new scientific knowledge related to food and health but also global issues surrounding food security and justice. By studying niche communities organized around novel food and eating practices but also hacked, DIY tools for cooking, we can understand and rethink further what is at stake in today’s food politics. We are starting to witness various “diet-tribes” and even “food-cults” formed around web apps and hardware tools ranging from the DIY sous-vide appliances used by Paleo Dieters to geo-locative foraging services like Fallen Fruit for “freegans” to crowd-sourced biodata visualizations for nutrigenomics enthusiasts.  These practices and movements will serve as a base for prototypes and design fiction that speculate on the future neo-tribal society in which emergent technologies and tools lead to often extreme relationships with nature and form niche communities with different dining and social practices.  These diet-tribes are viewed as cosmopolitical parties whose positions merely exaggerate current food politics and “market segments” defined by  “lifestyles of health and sustainability” (LOHAS). We would like to extrapolate the more radical trends in commons-based peer production, Internet of Things and “networked” 2.0 body monitoring movements such as “Quantified selves” in which identity formation is intimately linked with data tracing, monitoring and exchanges.  We are interested in the phenomenon of "product-ontologies" or commodities that literally confront us with their conditions of production (logistical chain, carbon foot-print, etc) and which redefine eating as unity formation, creation of a common body, social stomach which is simultaneously a political and a biological process and act. Workshop participants will be asked to bring their own cameras and computers and document the process of designing the food prototype which will be consumed at the end of the session.

Bios of the Presenters

Marc Tuters and Denisa Kera

Marc and Denisa are founding  members of the Secret Cooks Club (http://secretcooks.org) , a joint initiative of food and tech savvy members of Hackerspace SG and Interactive media & Food Studies group at the National University of Singapore and University of Amsterdam. We work on various projects involving food & design: hacking rice cookers into cheap souv vide equipment for paleodieters, organizing underground restaurants, experimenting with personalized dinners based on DNA profiles, DIYbio, food foraging and hopping or simply doing food ethnography in Indonesian wet markets (Batam, Bali) to support indigenous food practices with technology. We are hacking various food systems extending from the genome through individual bodies to social bodies, local and global ecosystems to study extreme food practices. Our speculative design prototypes look beyond the future of eating and reflect more generally on the role of design in arranging complex systems from farm and market to fork to phenotype.