Project Eat Me
Today we began by going over the project brief and presentation (to the right), taking notes and discussing the role of food in our lives. Because food is such a major part of daily life I found that I remembered a lot of different things in regards to and about food such as various cultural traditions and how food is viewed through these different cultures, the media, etc.
Seeing as today the diagnostic class joined our specialist class we had many more students and therefore partook in some exercises regarding the project which would also allow us to get to know our new classmates. We hence firstly discussed food traditions each person had and I found that there were some very interesting ones such as eating soup after every meal, or eating a lemon every New Year's to get rid of impurities and have a laugh. Due to the variety of nationalities in the class it was also very interesting to hear about how different cultures view/eat their food within their families, and there were even differences within different families of one nationality.
We then received a list of vegetables and were to select one, imagine it as a character and illustrate this character without making them necessarily look like the vegetable. I chose a carrot and imagined that this person would like to spend quite a lot of time alone (when growing in the ground) however when out, be very bright and in groups. He would have good eyesight (due to the claim that carrots are good for the eyes) and have a somewhat large chest/shoulders and thin out at the legs/ankles (somewhat following the shape of a carrot). I really liked this task and it was fun guessing what vegetables inspired other people's drawings as well as how they interpreted a personality from a vegetable.
After this exercise we learned about pattern-cutting. We made a cube and then attached it to a paper, cutting out the bottom of the cube and the part of the paper to which the cube was attached in order for us to see the inside of the cube on one part of the paper. From this we cut the 3D shape in order to turn it into a two-dimensional net/pattern once again.
This was somewhat confusing at first and difficult to understand the ultimate aim of when completing one step at a time, but finally I understood that it was in order to create a different net one might not think of when beginning with 2D, however can easily create when beginning with a 3D object. We then tried the same task but using a piece of vegetable as opposed to a cube. This immediately became much more challenging and it was very difficult to properly replicated the shape of a shallot using paper wrapped around it. When I eventually cut out the wrapped paper it was very difficult to create a net and it did not really turn out very well because it was still somewhat three-dimensional.
Still, moving on from this we looked at how this could be combined with a vest/bodice pattern to create the 3D shape onto the garment. Again this was slightly confusing and challenging to understand at first, as well as achieve but in the end I felt like I understood pattern cutting a lot more than previously. I also found however that I feel as though I have difficulty when transferring 2D to 3D or vice versa in my mind. I found this odd because I usually have a very good visual representation of things, however I think it might be when transferring dimensions that I have slightly more difficulty.
Overall despite the difficulties face today, I am glad that I tried my best and gained much better understanding of the art than I had before.
Above: creating a pattern for a shallot
Today we began by receiving limericks; mine was:
There was an Old Man of Vienna,
Who lived upon Tincture of Senna;
When that did not agree,
He took Camomile Tea,
That nasty Old Man of Vienna
From this, our task was to draw the character as we had done yesterday for the vegetable. I found this time around slightly more difficult as I found myself simply drawing a grumpy old man drinking tea, but this had nothing special to it.
Marie then indicated that it would be easier first of all to focus on the scene in which the character would be found, and his core body structure to draw the initial posture before adding detail. This resulted in a somewhat more developed character than I had achieved in my previous sketch because the background truly helps set a scene.
After this we needed to draw just the character out entirely (head to toe) on a separate sheet. Mine still looked relatively simple and like a typical old man however through different levels of caricature I finally managed to achieve a more defined character out of my drawing. I found this somewhat difficult as I have always had trouble escaping from the more realistic and into a cartoon/caricature style of drawing however I feel that this exercise definitely helped me improve my skills in character development through 2D drawing.
After having created these silhouettes we discussed taste and flavour as concepts and the difference between both of them.
Taste: sensation; chemical reaction
Olfactory --> smell
Texture, temperature, pain
Flavour: distinctive (labelled) taste
Indication of the essential character of something
Can be a journey
How do you distinguish flavour and taste?
We then went to work on the 'flavour' that we each brought in for that morning. I brought in dark chocolate. We were to taste and describe the flavour; I took this task on by trying to eliminate from my mind everything I thought I already knew about the taste or look/feel of dark chocolate and simply close my eyes to taste it fully and describe it step by step down to textures and smell.
Notes on the dark chocolate tasting:
Smells cocoa-ey and sweet
- Bitter at first; hard to bite into
- Melts on the tongue
- Bitter when bitten into with a sweet taste around the mouth
- Leaves one slightly thirsty
What is indulging?
- Taking your time, pleasure of eating, enjoying the flavours
From this feeling we created three dimensional structures/sculptures onto plates. I tried to create sharp geometric upward shapes like the breaking and bitterness of the chocolate, including waves of a more flowing material towards the outside of this structure to represent the melting and flowing nature of chocolate and its sweetness. The variety and luxurious taste and flavours in chocolate was represented by the golden paper and truffles on my sculpture.
This exercise was somewhat liberating as it allowed us to create a three-dimensional visual representation of a feeling, - of a gustatory experience.
Then placed into groups, we combined our plates as elements of a meal and acted out a scene in which a person was served the dishes. My group and I, putting our three dishes together immediately agreed on which would be the starter, main course and dessert based on the simple appearance of the sculptures. I thus recognised that there is a somewhat universal truth about all food despite the fascinating variations in food traditions and schemas attached to consumption, etc. that we initially discussed and are surrounded with.
From the improvised scene (which we agreed was set in a posh restaurant) I noted:
- Slow eating, tasting
- Not satisfied = do not eat
- Blending together the various flavours to fully enjoy the taste
- Smelling before eating
- Testing texture
- Waiter becoming angry at improper behaviour
Today we focused on doing white card modeling with restricted materials all linked to eating, such as a fork and a spoon, a napkin, a plate and a paper cup (all white). From this we were to represent our idea for the final outcome of the project. I first found this quite difficult as my plan was to try to create a costume/dress from sweets and fondant/cake icing.
My first reaction was to turn the cup upside down to create a skirt, however I was not entirely satisfied with the shape and thus exaggerated it with white card. I equally remembered paper quilling and thought it could be a somewhat interesting technique to display the potential shapes I could try to achieve with fondant on the skirt of the dress or bodice.
It was challenging to get started but once the dress took shape, it was much easier to add and refine the overall sculpture and I was able to finish relatively quickly. I found it very interesting to see what else everybody else had done. Some were much more taken by the materials in front of them and thus adapted their ideas and developed them greatly through the exercise thanks to the restriction imposed on them for the task.
Today I continued working on my research a bit in order to further develop my ideas for the dress I wanted to make. I find that sketching ideas out quickly when I think of them firstly helps me remember them and expand on them through drawing, in addition to quickly visualise the outcome to see whether or not it is something I would like to and logistically could create.
In the late afternoon/evening I went to You Me Bum Bum Train as a volunteer - I had never heard of it before a classmate from PDP (Timmy) asked the class for volunteers as they needed more that night. Looking into it I thought that it would be an exceptional experience particularly as I would like to go into Theatre and Film next year. That night I volunteered as a performer to participate in one of the scenes and while it was quite tiring to do this for around 5 hours almost non-stop, I cherished the experience so much because it was quite a cheerful atmosphere to be in and an amazing thing to be a part of. Seeing the difference between each passenger within minutes of each other also gives one an insight into how differently everyone views the world and respond to environments. Also being there with around 6 other classmates was equally a great opportunity to get to know them more and enjoy their company as the class now has ~40 people in it, I find it more difficult to get to know everyone.
Overall I would really like to go volunteer for You Me Bum Bum Train again, perhaps in behind the scenes to try something different next time.
Today I wanted to actually try testing out different materials and methods to use in order to create my final outcome. I felt that it was very important to try at this point because the final would be due in around 4 days.
My initial plan was to create a bodice cast using someone as a reference and then create a looser skirt for which I would have to first test different methods. I remembered that for the Reveal project someone had made a cast of their partner's bodice using tape and so I wanted to try this method. I therefore asked her how she had made it and she kindly instructed me, also sending me an informative video on how to do so (see to the right). To create the cast I asked a friend to wrap cling film around my upper-body (without the arms as I wanted to create a strapless dress) and then create layers of tape over the cling film (I had a new roll of duct tape). However, on the roll of tape there was not enough duct tape to even go around 2 proper layers while I was supposed to do 4-5. Therefore the cast was not very successful and while it held together I decided to move on to try something else. I tried creating a seperate cast of my arm with different thinner tape (which would not have sufficed for a bodice cast) in order to have a smaller cast upon which to practice decorating/creating patterns with sweets.Unfortunately as I was making it alone, the cast was too tight and was very difficult to cut off, rendering a slightly odd misshapen arm cast (but at least I had something to practice on).
I wanted to test out how to use various sweets and fondant icing today to create the dress's design and so bought various materials such as marshmallows, icing (fondant and decorative), M&Ms, skittles, chocolate, etc. In a previous class Gary suggested the idea of a marshmallow skirt, and I found this very interested and therefore thought of how I could possibly create a 'quilt'-like skirt out of marshmallows by perhaps sewing them together. Upon first attempt this did not really work and the marshmallows ripped apart. Through discussion with one of my friends I came up with the idea of having one long string of marshmallows which I could wrap around a skirt (if I were to produce some sort of wire cage) and glue down the thread to keep it secure in certain areas. Putting the thread through all of the marshmallows was somewhat tedious and quite difficult as the needle and thread would get very sticky very quickly and immediately become more prone to tangling, but I eventually managed to create a little chain of mini marshmallows (that I was using for practice).
After having tried out these various options with the marshmallows, I wanted to try decorating the arm cast with some of the other sweets I bought. I therefore used the piping icing as glue to create a pattern with M&M's onto the cast. They actually stayed surprisingly well, and even after a night in the refrigerator they were fairly sturdy.
I also wondered what it might be like if I tried to colour the marshmallows and therefore (not having food colouring with me) tried putting ink onto the mini marshmallows. I first dipped them in water in order for the ink to spread out and create an interesting unique pattern. This actually looked quite good, however when furthering the concept for my final design, I found that I would rather keep it edible and see the process of construction versus deconstruction if people were to be able to eat off of it once complete. I therefore imagined that I could wrap another couple layers of cling film over the tape of the cast.
Today was a very difficult long day of trial and error: I began working on the final piece and trying a variety of things. I approached Kate with the cast that I had created the day before and asked whether I should try to create a new one or not as it was not the most successful cast and she suggested that I create one directly on the mannequin out of paper machée in order to create a much stronger cast on which fondant could potentially hold (as fondant is quite heavy). I thus wrapped a mannequin in cling film to begin and then went to find newspapers in the King's Cross Station.
When I got back it was my time slot for the tutorial with Kate (on how to create our final pieces if we were stuck). I asked her about two ideas for how to create the marshmallow skirt as I was not sure whether I should try to create a wire cage for the skirt and wrap them around or a cardboard flat skirt for the strings of marshmallows to hang off. Kate then asked me why I wanted to create such a bouffant skirt as opposed to just a straight one because the large skirts reminded her of the Victorian era which was not decadent like the dress I was trying to make. We then talked about the possibility of making a flapper dress with strings of marshmallows. Through Kate's advice I decided to do a simple dress shape inspired by decadent time periods' fashion to have more logical reasoning behind it.
I thus went back to try creating strings of marshmallows with the large marshmallows however numerous troubles came up. Firstly the marshmallows all fell off the bottom of the string due to their weight and tying a triple knot in the thread was not enough to hold it up. I therefore decided to loop each marshmallow in the string twice to hold it up, which actually worked really quite well however when trying to add more than just a couple marshmallows to the thread it became too sticky and tangled easily, ripping the marshmallows. I tried numerous times, trying to avoid the problems I kept encountering however it became too stressful and just did not work.
Instead I began preparing the paper maché materials; when I explained the marshmallow problem to Gary he tried separating the marshmallows in two and simply sticking them onto cling film and they seemed to stick. He suggested I continue experimenting on smaller pieces instead of trying the entire dress now. I therefore created a paper maché cast on one mannequin's arm and tried the marshmallow method to the other. Whilst sticking marshmallow halves to the arm, I thought they might stick better if I melted in the middle where they were cut because it would make them much more sticky. I therefore tried this on the arm underneath the ones I previously stuck to the clingfilm in order to compare which held better and which overall I would use for the final product. Over night a couple fell from the first trial however all of the melted ones stayed attached very well and was therefore the method I chose to use for my final product. Because the string of marshmallows did not work very well I simply decided to create a tightfitting dress using the method of attaching marshmallows to the clingfilm. Is somewhat remind me of a polkadotted dress one would imagine in the 90s or 60s shown in my research. The bright pastel colours mixed with the almost neon of the M&Ms also reminded me of the bright colours typically seen in those times. I therefore began creating the dress by attaching house of marshmallows and mixing them up with a mini marshmallows to in order to create a slightly more complex design. I was also still really attached to the idea of using fondant for the dress and therefore tried to cut out panels as opposed to very large shapes which would potentially weigh down the peace too much and not work as well. I attach the first trial to the clingfilm by using both water on the fondant which makes it very sticky and small pieces of marshmallow. This worked very well with the marshmallows created lumps and therefore for the next piece of fun don't I tried attaching it simply using water which worked really well and showed a smoother result. I therefore decorated this piece using piping icing and M&Ms in order to add colour to the dress.
Overall it was quite a diffcult day and I learned that things never go as expected however through persistent trial and error you can arrive at a product which looks great and was not something you would have originally thought of, which might be even better.
Taking the time to properly think about my design further than aestheticism, I wanted to convey a feeling of decadence and gluttony as well as some sense of luxury. Nowadays in this huge world of consumption/consumerism and mechanisation, we forget that many elements of our diets are artificial and unnecessary. It sort of eats us up as we can often not resist the temptation of sweets and excess foods. Even myself, and classmates (and some sneaky tutors!) were unable to resist snatching a marshmallow from my work table whilst creating the dress. Dessert itself is somewhat of a luxury. Even just a few decades ago, fruit was a luxury. Sweetness, patisserie, cakes and desserts are all part of a frivolous world in which we allow ourselves to indulge.
Today I just continued making my final product which takes a very long time and a lot of marshmallows! Halfway through when explaining my initial ideas and journey with them to Marie she suggested using a thin metal wire to hang the marshmallows from for the skirt as opposed to thread. The marshmallows began singing but with just twisting the wire a bit they could hold on easily. This was therefore very good idea however due to the weight of both the wire and the strength of marshmallows I was unable to find a successful way of hanging these from the dress without using glue (because I wanted the dress to stay edible). Therefore I simply continued the dress the way I began and finished it on Wednesday evening. Despite potentially not being a will to wear the dress as I did not make a base strong enough I actually quite like the outcome and if I were able to start again I would begin immediately was creating a very strong base adding cling film on top and then sticking on the marshmallows as I did which would then not only make the dress edible but also wearable.
Today was the final exhibition/feast and it was amazing! Everyone's projects brought together on display looked like a grand dining room of odd meals combined together. There were films, performances and separate costumes and everything was so different yet so united it was quite an amazing experience and possibly my favorite end of project exhibitions so far. While this was equally the most difficult project for me due to everything always going wrong in a plethora of different ways, it was very fulfilling. Also as the class now has around 40 people in it I was able to see a much wider variety of projects than before and I really enjoyed seeing what everybody else had come up with. Some had political messages, some were more in-tune to traditions linked to food and meal-time, and some where just fun pieces using food as a medium.
After having watched the films and performances we were free to go around and look at everybody else's work. During this time people were finally able to eat the sweets from the dress I had made (see time-lapse above). Despite the 'Eat Me' tag (very Alice-in-Wonderland-like) some people had not immediately understood that they were able to eat it and seemed surprised when they discovered that they could. Some people initially felt a bit as though what they were doing was slightly wrong but still really enjoyed it as it was fun eating sweets from the dress. I found this rather suiting to the notion behind my piece being indulging in decadence and things we don't truly need but want/enjoy nonetheless. There is this idea of artificial consumerism consuming us (hence wearing the food).
Final Piece (Before)
Everybody gave me quite positive feedback overall and seemed to really enjoy my final outcome. Some comments left next to my piece included:
"Haha what a ravishing dress!
Looks cool after people savaged it
Reminds me of Katy Perry California Girls - love it and the interaction with the audience is really nice. A way of deconstruction/destroying
Such a shame it had to be eaten - but AMAZING
Wear your heart/decadence on your sleeve type idea!"
Overall this project was challenging but I really enjoyed it and know that it makes me think a lot more about food than before, especially in terms of eating for survival or eating just for the sake of it.
Transformation - food and fairy tales
The company of wolves (directed by Neil Jordan 1984)- red riding hood retelling
- Story looks at the wolf as being as a charismatic predator
- Film shares fables centred around food and cannibalism
Indiana Jones (where they are forced to eat monkey brains, making fun of food traditions from other countries)
Eat or Be eaten, work in progress by Asa Norling
- Hansel and Gretel
- Food as a way of storytelling
- Food and the ritual of feasting
- "You cannot force a feast. A feast must present itself'
La Grande Bouffe, directed by Marco Ferreri (1973)
- Dysfunctional isolated men
- Key aspect - consumption and decadence
L'aile ou la cuisse - food as a major theme
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; directed by Peter Greenaway
- Set like a staged set
- Names of characters
Processes involved in creating a feast
Jan Svankmajer, Dimensions of a Dialogue (1983)
- Three spheres of society (turning into replication)
Erin Peisert I will if you do
Serving and eating as a symbolic dance - modestly female representation
Andy Best & Merja Puustinen, Gas Bag for Edible 2012
- Venture inside the stomach (surreal digestive system)
- Sound of the digestive system in action
Algaculture, Symbiosis Suit
- Mutually living off of each other
The Performance of Dining
Loli Sifakaki, Tantalus Dinner, 2009
Mimi Oka and Doug Fitch, Orphic Feast Series
Hunt and Darton Café
- Mobile café
- Create alternative spaces with guest performers to come and be the waiters for a day
- Always something surreal
- Perform and ritualise the idea of serving and being served
Meschac Gaba, Museum Restaurant
- Appauled with the way contemporary african art was always being displayed in museums
- Recreated the museum restaurant
- He invited a series of artists to contribute in this dining experience (guest cook and guest artist to perform)
Ann Hamilton, Malediction 1991
- Taking a bite everyday
Bobby Baker, Drawing on a mothers experience (2007)
- Importance of the mother's role = undervalued
- Using own true stories
- Post martem depression
The ritual as performance
Margret Wibmer, Transition from Arrival to Departure 2013
- Austrian artist, experiments with dance, music, architecture
Absence of the Teamaster, Akane Nakamori & Margret Wibmer
- Produced as live performance
- Based on differences in eastern and western concepts of space, body, rituals
- Choreography, sound, set
- Law banned (hunting of endangered songbird)
- Before François Miteran died he ate one publicly
- Drape and hide their head to preserve the precious aromas and hide for such a decadent act
- Hide one's shame from God
Studio Swine, Slow Fast food Restaurant
- Press pause on cycle of food consumption speed
Emilie Baltz, Energia 2014
Unami Food festival 2014
Food as Protest
Mark McGowen, Eats a Corgi (2007)
- Performance artist; political twist on work
- Often uses food (turkey shoved on head, walking backwards)
- The way media portrays you as a spectacle
- Publicly done work, versus what the work is actually about
- The artist taxi driver
Banksy, Sirens of the lambs 2013
Paul McCarthy, Houseboat Party & Pirate Party 2005
United Brothers, Does this soup taste ambivalent? 2014
- Highly toxic soup using vegetables grown near Fukushima
The World of Food
Carl Warner, Foodscapes since 2012
Food as Another
Lucy & Jorge Orta, Wikheizij, - Mil 2010
Joseph Marr 2013
- Candy sculpture
Takao Sakai 2008
Lady Gaga Meat Dress
Historical Food Dresses
High frequency sounds enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies
Captain Biopunk, The Sound of Fermentation, 2012
- Yeast (amplifying the sound of fermentation)
The Recipe Project
The British Museum of Food
Today I was unable to work much on this project as I was at the UCAS talk and decided to get this set up, and then was writing an application to become the curator of UAL's TEDx talks in March.
While thinking of university applications for next year, I decided that I would look at courses offering both film and theatre and the variety of subcategories that come with those topics, as well as courses which offer a balance of theoretical and practical work.