Molecular Cuisine:
The Politics of Taste

October 19-21, 2012
New York

School of Visual Arts
Molecular Cuisine
Suzanne Anker, Sea Rose, 2008. Inkjet Print, 24x36 inches.

Conference

Molecular Cuisine: The Politics of Taste is an interdisciplinary conference focusing on desire’s palette. Investigating the importance of taste from the perspectives of the culinary arts, sociology, art history and theory, anthropology, as well as the cognitive, material and biological sciences, the symposium targets intersections between taste and value. While taste is the key concept in new cooking technologies, it also connects to our passions, predilections and taboos. Researchers from the scientific and cultural spheres ask the questions, why we enjoy certain foods and not others, why we prefer certain styles and not others. Involving multiple discourses which emphasize the senses, emotions and sensory assets, the concept of taste, which is traditionally one pertaining to the fine arts or humanities, develops a renewed relevance in current cultural debates.

Program

Friday October 19, 2012
4:00-6:00 pm Registration
6:15 - 6:30 pm

Introduction

Suzanne Anker

6:30 - 7:30 pm

Keynote Address

The title of this paper refers to the breaking of an egg, and one’s inability to put it back together again. Thus the myth of creation is a catalyst in which the elemental transformations of heat and biological materials undergo metamorphosis. In the goddess occultist rituals, many of which invoke the deity through stupefaction or delirium, the charm of intoxication is experienced as the breath and scent of vision. A complete artwork includes the space, scent, and touch of the divine within the physical properties of a mere kiss.

It is this aspect of such intoxication that brings us to the temples of man, the often prescribed theatres of ceremony and experience. Feasts of debauchery, bison-filled hunting rituals, virginal sacrifices, and the silk-hued mysteries of invocation culminated in the divine spark of human transformation, from which art and writing evolved. In Egypt, these induced visions were elongated beyond mere physical representation and ultimately transformed into the symbolic. Without writing we have no recipes to aid intrinsic aspects of devotional consummation.

To preserve French recipes in the midst of the Revolution, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiologie du goût became the splendid catalyst in saving what we consider Western cuisine. As Brillat-Savarin put it superbly, “A man does not live on what he eats, but on what he digests.”

Sabine Flach, Moderator
7:30 - 8:30 pm

Keynote Address

Speculative Design makes proposals that digest large complex issues surrounding technology into tangible designs for debate. Lisa Ma pushes a form of Speculative Design that builds mutually beneficial relationships between fringe communities and the mainstream population. The resulting speculative services  provoke audiences with radical solutions for real communities designed out by technology.

Lisa Ma spent 6 weeks in a joystick factory located in Shenzhen, China to challenge our sensationalist knowledge of ‘factory workers’ from the media by researching experiences of  ex-farmers. This eventually led her to experimentations in saving the worker community at the end of the innovation cycle with part time farming and opening up a global dialogue about how our technological demands make a real impact on world food economy.

Suzanne Anker, Moderator
8:30 - 9:00 pm Refreshments

 

Saturday October 20, 2012
9:00-10:00 am Registration & Continental Breakfast
10:00-12:30 pm

Panel I - Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

“The crystalline body,” a concept found in Eastern philosophy, is metaphor for a form of Enlightenment. In this state of consciousness, a person achieves a renewed sense of presence through the harmonious alignment of chakras, energy sources in the body. 

The crystalline body, however, has another definition. In genetic decipherment and analysis, it has been found that every DNA molecule contains a backbone in which a sugar compound, a crystalline structure is always present.  We know that sugar’s chemical interactions with the body result in pleasurable responses, feelings of energy, uplift and metabolic catharsis.

This talk will point to the ways in which sugar production is indeed an industry bordering on slavery, while sugar as a substance is finding novel applications in bio-printing.  Sugar remains an intriguing substance rich beyond caloric values. How have artists invoked this confectionary substance or its substitutes in visual art? 

Drawing on new research and unpublished archival material, this paper analyzes the significance, from both the artistic and gastronomic points of view, of the extraordinary sugar sculptures which adorned the Italian banquet table with special reference to their symbolism and the difficult techniques required for  their manufacture.

A brief history of this ephemeral art form will be traced starting from the drawings of trionfi di zucchero by famous artists such as Bernini and Sansovino. From the Renaissance onwards sugar, a costly status symbol, was a substance which communicated power and wealth and was liberally employed in cuisine with multiple uses as a medicament, flavor enhancer, condiment, and/or as a decorative element.

The complexity and the aesthetics of sugar architecture will be outlined focussing on the first detailed analysis of these showpieces, indicating the different structural types and the wide range of symbolical subjects: religious, mythological, geographical, etc. 

During the Baroque age, after banquets these showpieces,together withthe drawings, were often offered as gifts to important guests and were treasured asobjets d’art.

Luxury and spectacle reigned at the early modern banquet. Meticulously-organized tables presented extraordinary quantities of foodstuffs, with ingredients frequently sourced from across Europe or imported from farther afield to provide treats completely out of season, all to represent the power and reach of the host. The Office of the Carver wielded his knife to transform animal carcasses, untamed products of the natural world, into food fit for civilized consumption at the banquet. On the dessert table, extraordinary “feasts for the eyes” provided visual nourishment through the delight and awe of their deceptions. Entire architectural scenes were created in marzipan and sugar paste. Armadas of ships folded from napkins sailed across seas of colored sugar. Jellies created elaborate ponds that seemed to be filled with fish, while fruits were carved to mimic crabs and turtles. As one German cookbook writer marveled, “In Summa: Everything what Nature deigns to bring forth: And when it can be Life-Sized and done well, one can often deceive with it.” Called trionfi da tavola or Schauessen, these showpieces were triumphs of artistic ingenuity and transformed food into objects of purely visual delight. Despite being made of edible materials, they primarily existed “to please the eye.”

This paper examines the taste for inedible visual delights at the early modern banquet table. These showpieces frequently stretched the very limits of their medium by redefining the nature of the ingredients and transforming them into unrecognizable yet new and marvelous substances. My work draws on a rich body of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources to reveal the bombastic decorative culture at baroque courts and the intriguing resonances with contemporary gastronomic culture.

Alternately cast as devil and angel, sweetness is perhaps the primary and primordial sense of taste.  In the Bible, it is linked to temptation and even seduction.  We associate it with childhood because it is the first taste children come to love — unlike salty, umami, sour and especially bitterness, it requires no apprenticeship to appreciate.  From mother's milk to KoolAid, sweetness is the primal taste, and thus the obvious platform to stage both innocence and corruption.  It's tied both to the cute and the abject — adorable babies and the morbidly obese.

Sweetness alone is unsophisticated, and only when tempered do we consider it refined.  One mediation is perfume, but others are sourness and bitterness.  Many fruits combine these qualities, and there exists an invisible ranking from the mono-flavor of the banana to the bi-flavor of good apples and peaches (which balance sweet and tart), to the tri-flavor of less widely popular fruits like grapefruit, which combine the sweet, sour and bitter.  In the allegory of the apple in the Garden of Eden, sweet comes to represent seduction and sour, knowledge.  Good and evil spin around these innocuous poles and create the foundation of both cultural and moral values, though it might be more fitting to say that our values impose themselves where in fact they do not actually yet exist. In Greek and Roman culture, sweetness, in the form of the grape and especially wine, urges us to joy, pleasure, delirium and divine madness.  

In our collaborative work, Fallen Fruit began with an investigation into Public Fruit (fruit found growing in or over public space) and has moved into examining the cultural role of fruit. We ask if there are new forms of citizenship and stewardship in the our unbalanced urban worlds.   We look at fruit and its sweetness in relation to culture, the social, political and aesthetic.  We find that taste is not the grammar of food, but the conceptual semantics of culture.  

Fallen Fruit is David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young.  fallenfruit.org

Suzanne Joelson, Moderator
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
1:30-3:00 pm

Panel 2 - Flavour Foragers

Cooking and the culinary arts have become part of pop culture. Newspapers, magazines, the internet and television schedules are packed with features on kitchen culture and the heroes of gastronomy. Chefs range from kitchen chemist to political campaigner; it is evident that food and its preparation are on trend.

Using the analogy of a symphony, with composer and audience, we will attempt to describe how each of the senses contributes to our overall appreciation of a dish, such as King crab with smoked salsify, roast chervil root, ribbons of crisped Jerusalem artichoke, an artichokepuree, beurre noisette powder and razor clam dressing topped with apple blossom, servedwith a fish consommé.  We aim to place taste and flavour perception into the center of a discussion focusing on the sensory story behind gastronomy, presenting the information in an accessible and interactive format.

Beth B, Moderator
3:00-4:00 pm Demonstrations and Coffee Break
4:00-6:30 pm

Panel 3 - Taste Makers

For eighteenth-century thinkers such as Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, taste was a human capacity with immediate relevance for the possibility of understanding society as a commonality grounded in our sensuousness.  But so too did Burke and Kant need to radically reconfigure the notion of taste so that it might appear as a faculty extending well beyond our sensuous nature.  One of the most illuminating ways to understand this Enlightenment expansion of taste is to trace the ways in which Burke and Kant formulate the refinement of taste as an imitative doubling of our sensuous capacity for pleasure.   This talk will follow the ways in which Burke and Kant move from the senses and pleasure to taste and society.

All problems concerning taste and the art of cooking lead to one specific question: is there such a
thing as “culinary aesthetics”? If so, how could it be defined, what would be its parameters, what its subjects as well as its objects?

For more than a year I’ve been researching a project that analyses the distinctions between the
senses and aesthetics, as well as the different ways smell and taste are represented in art. The main points I’m interested in are aesthetic questions, e.g. conditions that allow putting cooking on a level with art; definitions of taste; the relationship between paintings and inner visions (caused by gustatory and olfactory phenomena, etc.) and last but not least the role of the spectator/recipient and the different ways of involvement.

I will define the concept of “culinary aesthetics” and present it as a valuable way to interpret taste, affection and the senses. My aim is to deliver a paper that deals with theoretical questions, that proposes a new approach and that gives important impulses for the discussions during the conference.

While referring to Walter Benjamin’s reflections on cooking as Lebenskunst, and Marcel Mauss’ Essai sur le don (among others), the talk focuses on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s book Truth and Method. If, and if so, how, taste is much more than a mere mode or trend, we can understand it as an aesthetic-life concept and exactly because of that as a key concept in humanism.

Taste is one of the most significant, traditional concepts in philosophy as well as in art-theory. The talk explores cooking materials and practices employed in 20c and contemporary art to investigate the relevance of taste in art today. 

This paper will discuss the historical correlations between taste and aesthetics, cuisine and art. Nowadays, the notion of cuisine and taste seen as legitimate forms of art has become very popular. I would like to demonstrate that the culinary celebration we witness today has a history and that this association between taste and art was, for centuries, simply unthinkable. In the past, taste, located at the bottom of the hierarchy of senses, was traditionally considered as a lower sense, more corporal, animal and material than the higher senses (sight and hearing), therefore despicable and unworthy of interest to scholars. The word “taste” had a very simple meaning, reduced to its bodily function: it designated the sense that distinguishes flavors. The same may be said for cuisine, that hasn’t always been considered, as it is today, a form of art. For a long time it appeared to be a simple mechanical art/craft, linked to the domesticity of the household.

The major cultural turn seems to happen around the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. It may be linked, among many other factors, to the progressive use of the word “taste” in a figurative way, providing numerous metaphors that contribute to complexify the multiple meanings of taste (the aesthetic judgment is only one among many other uses of the metaphor that emerge in the early modern era). During the Enlightenment, taste becomes for the very first time a fashionable topic. New meanings of the sense emerge: “treatises of taste” are published that discuss the multiple meanings of what is about to become a new philosophical concept and debates are held within polite society. Taste acquires a higher value. At the same moment, chefs themselves become more self-confident in their professional skills. The stature of the cook as well as of cuisine rises to a higher level. As a result, the ideas of an art of taste or aesthetics of cuisine are no longer sarcastic, but reasonable claims.

In conclusion, I would like to submit a paper related to the historical relationships among taste, cuisine, art and aesthetics. This research is necessarily interdisciplinary, crossing history with anthropology, art history and theory, philosophy, aesthetics, and many others, with the two major research fields being food studies and sensory studies. This inquiry about taste and cuisine and their relation to art is fascinating because it might help us understand how and why taste and cuisine became so important to our own contemporary culture.

Frank Gillette, Moderator
6:30-7:15 pm Cocktails and Conversation
7:30- 9:00pm Open Dinner; pay on your own


Sunday, October 21, 2012
9:00-10:00 am Registration & Continental Breakfast
10:00-12:30 pm

Panel 4 - Food Chain

In an era where information is shared ever more rapidly and broadly, “new” dishes become old before a diner even finishes a meal. Restaurants that cater to the increasingly knowledgeable international gourmet  - someone who travels for the sole purpose of eating at specific restaurants, usually highly acclaimed by bodies like the Michelin Guide or Restaurant Magazine - are thus under constant pressure to reinvent themselves to remain relevant. Previously alien equipment and ingredients appear in many of those kitchens with the purpose of enabling culinary innovation; to create not only dishes, but also exhibits, performances, or even scientific papers.

Many appellations - none universally accepted - have surfaced to identify this redefining moment in culinary history: molecular gastronomy, experimental cuisine, science-based cooking, techno-emotional cuisine, molecular cooking, and modernist cuisine. At the core of these terms, at least conceptually, is innovation. Even as chefs’ influence increases through this process of innovation, however,  who is a true innovator, and what genuinely constitutes culinary innovation remains unclear. Concepts such as creativity, discovery, and invention also need a clear interpretation.

Using perspectives and methodological approaches from the physical sciences (the laboratory), the humanities, and the culinary arts, this presentation interrogates what characterizes culinary innovators; what impact they have on “Taste” and tastes, and how they come to be perceived as such by both their peers and the public.

In millenniums past, cuisine was synonymous with leaves, underground tubers and fleeing ungulates.  Paleolithic cave paintings show an intertwining of human and animal forms that suggest early Homo sapiens pictured themselves as part of the wild ecosystem.  Now, the aesthetics of food - how we define and create what is palatable, corresponds to the assessment our species has of its place in the natural order.  As agriculturalists supplanted hunter-gatherers, did the measured geometry and repetitive alignment of plants influence how artists defined space and form in their work at that time?  What do Cheetos, Red Bull and baloney reveal about our relationship to nature and the art we create today?  The need to eat is nature’s barbed hook.  Is it possible to view civilization as a grand conceptual scheme, with food as its visual jester, to try and remove that snag lodged deep in our gullet? 

In a roundtable discussion held at the restaurant elBulli, the New York-based art critic Jerry Saltz proclaimed, “…what I think (Ferran) Adrià was demonstrating is Love. This is why I was becoming so hysterical, because I think he was doing something you only have with Love, where one plus one equals one.” If food and love are as intrinsically linked as Saltz expects, it is worthwhile to consider related cases where the edible in general – and molecular gastronomy in particular – are used to question and disorder the nature of sexuality.

Queer Food for Love is a collective that in 2011 presented the project Queer Science: A Molecular Gaystronomy Laboratory, (sic), a San Francisco-based event where experimental amouse bouche à la Adrià were served to the public. The core of queer aesthetics, which pursues destabilized and polyvalent identities, finds a powerful gustatory analogy in molecular gastronomy, which seeks to disrupt expectations about vision, taste, touch, and smell, and interrupt the diner’s view of themselves as a coherent sensing subject.

This paper explores a connection between mimicry in molecular gastronomy – such as Ferran Adrià’s infamous “mimetic peanut,” which has the shape of a regular peanut but exceeds expectations with its reconstituted “shell” and creamy interior – and the gender-tilting goals involved in “passing” and drag, which are at the core of Queer Food for Love’s Gaystronomy.

Gary Sherman, Moderator
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
1:30-3:30 pm

Panel 5 - Skeleton Feast

My paper examines Arte povera artist Luciano Fabro’s engagement of the sense of taste in contemporary art through his 1990 installation/exhibition, Computers di Luciano Fabro, Caramelle di Nadezda Mandel’stam. For this show, Fabro created a tribute to Nadezda, the faithful wife of exiled Russian poet Osip Mandel’stam (1891-1938). Nadezda had saved her husband’s poems from oblivion, learning them by heart and writing them on scraps of paper that she hid between pots and pans, publishing them only after his death, in transit to a Siberian gulag.

To accompany this exhibition on the power of memory, Fabro asked young artists to offer candies wrapped in quotations from Nadezda’s memoirs. The artist said he envisioned the sweet candies as a simple mode of testimony, a way for the viewer to take in the message directly through the sense of taste, replicating the manner in which Nadezda had savored and memorized bits of her husband’s poetry. He also intended the candy distribution and consumption to emphasize the role of individual responsibility in participating, preserving and transmitting art and culture throughout history. Critics registered the gesture of distribution as a modern form of Communion. At the same time, Fabro meant the candies to recall something unpleasant: the sweets that Stalin's police cynically offered Nadezda while searching the couple’s apartment. Setting the viewer on guard, Fabro warned that an appeal to sweetness could also be a bitter trap, distorting one’s sense of judgment. He thus framed the notion of deciding to “eat” or “consume” in an artistic, cultural, and political sense, as a conscious act requiring intellectual forethought and discernment. Finally, by placing Nadezda’s message in unobtrusive, apparently neutral packaging, he cleverly reversed the hierarchical values of desired candy vs. discarded wrapper. In doing so, he turned waste products into precious scraps, generating a lasting form of food for thought.

Food is both a relevant source of signification and an effective form of communication, based on a limited although very wide  variety of edible substances, practices, beliefs, and norms that form a network of interconnected systems. These systems and their uses in social practice, constituting a specific semio-sphere, are challenged when their users travel and are confronted with unfamiliar food-ways in terms of ingredients, cooking techniques, flavorings, preparations, utensils, meal structure, table manners, timing of the meals during the day, and social dynamics. When different culinary semio-spheres interact, food-related experiences reveal the cultural character of gastronomic competences, forcing individuals to engage with otherness through embodied communication.

The influence of language on sensation is more profound than generally thought, said Henri Bergson. Under the presumption that taste is particularly inarticulate as compared to other faculties, it has often been relegated as a “lower” sense. But no matter how inadequate language is for confronting the complexities of subjective taste, its effects on sensation, as Bergson suggests, should not be taken lightly or for granted. Our taste, alluding to both sensation and aesthetic sensibility, is shaped very much by what we have to say about it.

In contemporary society, we are witnessing the emergence of new and refined vocabularies for talking about taste, flavor, and smell. The rise of widespread connoisseurship in matters of delicate taste (i.e. coffee, tea, wine, chocolate) is a clear example of a space in which such a lexicon is put into practice. Here I concentrate on another space: sensory science. Sensory science is a branch of food science specialized in consumer research and product evaluation. Widely applied in the industry of food and flavor creation where standardization and uniformity are usually the norm, it serves an important role in defining and establishing social conventions about what is expected and desired from food, as well as a particular language of taste. How is this language created and articulated? In which ways does it transform the sensing experience of the consumer? What are the challenges behind naming the ephemeral, and how has the food industry responded to them? This paper addresses these questions by focusing on the tension between standardization and innovation. Is sensory specialization
encouraging a series of indistinguishable “global flavors” or can it contribute to the articulation of unknown sensorial territories? How can we create sensory differences?

Luca Buvoli, Moderator
3:30-4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:00-6:30 pm

Panel 6 - Don’t play with your food

Through the use of live and video demonstrations I will open a discussion about our personal hierarchies with regard to eating animals, the value of animal life as a mirror on our own mortality.

In 1932, the Italian Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti proposed a revolution in food. He dined his way from Milan to Paris to Budapest, staging eye-catching demonstrations along with his talks that were first published in his Futurist cookbook of 1932.

Marinetti’s 1932 Futurist cookbook and Futurist banquets were Modernist/Dada attacks/performances based on the concept of epater de bourgeois; they were sensually and visually disruptive, a sophisticated form of performance art. The Futurists wanted to modernize Italy and cut their connection with the art monuments of the past. In the post World War I period they extended their critique of culture into the realm of Italy’s food based traditions. Their future was the present.

Their banquets were a form of gestamkunstwerk that combined sound, light, aromas and touch with food. In “Aero food,” pieces of olive, fennel and kumquat are eaten with the right hand while the left hand caresses various swatches of sandpaper, velvet, and silk. At the same time, the diner is blasted with a giant fan (preferable an airplane propeller) and nimble waiters spray the scent of carnations, all to the strains of a Wagner opera. (“Astonishing results,” Marinetti said. “Test them and see.”) .

Marinetti’s declaration that scientific principles should be used in the Futurist kitchen anticipates the molecular gastronomy practiced by Ferran Adria and others. This presentation will recreate aspects of the original banquets and discuss the sophisticated, multi-sensual and humorous intentions of Futurist food, their distinctive methods, ideology and lasting influence.

To bring Futurist food performance from a passive to an active tense, part of this presentation will be a recreation of parts of a Futurist banquet with an offering of samples of Futurist food and eating experiences to the audience.

My intention is to present documentation of Still Life with Banquet, incorporating a discussion of some of its theoretical and philosophical underpinnings.

Still Life with Banquet was collaboration between chef Kitty Greenwald and myself, commissioned by Zero1, during the 2010 San Jose Biennial. It was the formal opening dinner of the art festival for 100 diners. Six large-scale high resolution projections based on classical still life paintings surrounded the diners as the meal was served, the four courses of the meal having been created with the ingredients depicted in the paintings, locally sourced and lovingly prepared by master chefs led by Ms. Greenwald. As diners consumed the meal, the fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheeses in the projections slowly decomposed, while grasses and plants grew around and through them, and everyday plastic objects were revealed beneath them.

The still life paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries famously celebrate sumptuous arrays of exotic foodstuffs. Often they also included a memento mori, a moralistic omen of the futility of indulging in sensual pleasures rather than attending to the spiritual side of life. These paintings adorned the walls of the houses of the bourgeoisie, for
whom these wondrous goods had recently become available with the development of colonies and the expansion of international trade. Serving up the fruits of global commerce on glowing silver platters comfortably removed from the exploitation that fueled the Dutch Republic's phenomenal rise to prosperity, these paintings,
exhibited in international museums as examples of high culture, are the front surface of a hive of contradictions.

Ironically, the mega food corporations that control what we consume today, while similarly exploitative, no longer inspire a similar quality of life. 300 years further along in civilization, and almost 30 years after the start of the international slow food movement, Still Life with Banquet raises questions about food, art and beauty, often focusing on what is taken as beautiful or disgusting, and why. These and related topics were vigorously discussed by diners during the course of the banquet.

Caroline Hobkinson creates experimental dining experiences in both gallery, public and private spaces. She works with food as an artistic medium. Especially the ritual and spectacle of eating.

These are fully immersive Multisensory dining experiences and Food performances where the diners cease to be diners but become performers in a culinary ritual.

(How we eat- the context and emotion has the strongest impact on how we perceive taste. Whether its suspended from the ceiling or whether we eat with alternative dining instruments like spearing our food with a tree branch, the long prepared Christmas Feast, The Birthday cake.
Eating food is the most intimate way to interact with our environment. The way we eat is full of tiny conventions – the instruments we use, the manners we apply, the mixtures of certain flavours and textures – but they a such an ingrained part of our daily culture, we hardly ever think of them. To play with food, to experience forces us to reasses how we eat and ultimately who we are.)

Robin Winters, Moderator
6:30-6:45 pm Conference closure

 

Speakers and moderators

 Suzanne Anker

Suzanne Anker

(New York City, USA)

Visual artist and theorist working at the nexus of art and the biological sciences. Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally in museums and galleries including the Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Institute, the Phillips Collection, P.S.1 Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Japan and the Mediznhistoriches Museum der Charite in Berlin. Her seminal text The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Genetic Age (co-authored with the late Dorothy Nelkin) was published in 2004 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. She is the Chair of the Fine Arts Department of School of Visual Arts in New York since 2005. suzanneanker.com

 Beth B

Beth B

(New York City, USA)

Beth B is one of the most innovative film artists of her time. Her early pieces, along with those of Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, are the focus of a new documentary, Blank City. Her films and artwork have been the subjects of several books and other documentaries, including The Cinema of Transgression; Art, Performance, Media; and No Wave: Underground 80. Her films have been the subject of retrospectives at London’s National Film Theater; the Montreal Film Festival; Lisbon’s Nucleo Dos Cineastas Independentes; and the Danish Film Institute.  She has also served on the competition juries at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals.

 

 

  Bennett

Ciaran Bennett

(Dublin, Ireland)

Ciaran Bennett, born in Dublin, graduated from the Dun Laoghaire School of Art. He was elected President of AICA, the International Association of Art Critics, in 2006. He is involved in curatorial projects, lecturing and writing, currently working on a book about James Johnson Sweeney, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, both in New York.  Bennett’s essay on expressionism in Irish art was published in Art in Ireland 1600 – 2000, a six volume series from the Royal Irish Academy. Recently he curated the Irish art selections for Critique and Crisis, an exhibition opening this month in the Deutsches Historiches Museum, Berlin.

 Luca Buvoli

Luca Buvoli

(New York City, USA)

Based in New York City, Luca Buvoli works with animated film and video, installation, sculpture, painting, and drawing. His three ongoing multi-media projects, entitled Not-a-Superhero, Flying —Practical Training, and Meta-Futurism explore mythology, science, and ideology. In these works, the artist intertwines elements of philosophical and psychoanalytical discourse with daily life and humor.  Luca Buvoli's solo shows include the ICA in Philadelphia (2007), the M.I.T. List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (2000), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2001), and the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, part of Mythopoeia–Projects by Matthew Barney, Luca Buvoli, and Matthew Ritchie (1999). His sculptures are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and many other prestigious public and private collections in Europe, Asia, and the United States. His meditation on the illusions and delusions of Modernism was presented in a large multimedia installation at the 2007Venice Biennale, and a large outdoor project was installed at the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum in Berlin, in conjunction with the exhibition Utopia Matters in 2010. He is currently working on a project in collaboration with NASA scientists.

 Catherine Chalmers

Catherine Chalmers

(New York City, USA)

Catherine Chalmers holds a B.S. in Engineering from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London.  She has exhibited her artwork around the world, including MoMA P.S.1, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle Vienna and MOCA Taipei, among others.  Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Out New York, ArtNews and Artforum.  She has been featured on PBS, CNN, NPR, and the BBC.  Two books have been published on her work: FOOD CHAIN (Aperture 2000) and AMERICAN COCKROACH (Aperture 2004).  Her video “Safari” received a Jury Award (Best Experimental Short) at SXSW Film Festival in 2008.  In 2010 Chalmers received a Guggenheim Fellowship.  She was an Artist-in-Residence at Pilchuck Glass School in 2011. 

 Mark Clintberg

Mark Clintberg

(Montreal, Canada)

Mark Clintberg is currently a PhD student in the Interuniversity Doctoral Program in Art History at Concordia University and a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His research interests include public art, still life, and ephemeral, collaborative, and performative contemporary art practices. His dissertation, titled The Artist's Restaurant: Taste and the Edible Still Life, focuses on case studies from the late-20th and early-21st centuries in which artists conceptualize and present edible forms of artworks to audiences. His writing has been published in various books and catalogues including: One for Me and One to Share: Artist's Multiples by Multiple Artis; Romantical: Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay; David Spriggs: Archeology of Space, Lateral Learning, and decentre: concerning artist-run culture. His research has recently been published in the journal The Senses & Society, and in the periodicals Canadian Art, The Art Newspaper, Arte al Dia International, Border Crossings, BlackFlash, Fillip Review, and Photofile.

 

June de Schino

(Rome, Italy)

June Di Schino, born in South Africa is also an Italian citizen. She is a cultural historian who  specializes in food and the banquet. Professor DiSchino is the President of Diomeda Centro Studi Recerche e Origettazione, a member of the board of the Academia Italiana della Cucina and an Associate Professor at Roma Tre University. In addition to being an advisor to the Italian Ministry of Education, she is also the President of the National Commission of hotel and restaurant schools in Italy. Honors include the Orio Vergani prize for gastronomic literature, in both 2006 and 2008, and the Gourmand International Award in 2006.

 Kianna Bahrami

Lulie Biggs & Kianna Bahrami

(London, UK)

Lulie Biggs and Kianna Bahrami specialise in cross-curricular ventures, which inform and engage young people in a creative forum. Their interest in sensory perception evolved from audio-visual projects that included themes of sensory deprivation and multi-modality, working with d/Deaf young people.

Pursuing a mutual passion with food and the culinary arts, they have co-designed and developed Flavour SenseNation, a touring exhibition funded by the Wellcome Trust. This interactive event engages audiences in a sensory experience of flavors. The experiential journey guides the user through each of the senses and their roles in our appreciation of food and flavour. Flavour SenseNation translates the sensory story behind gastronomy. 

 Sabine Flach

Sabine Flach

(Berlin, Germany/New York City, USA)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Flach is currently a Visiting Professor School of Visual Arts, Department of Fine Arts. She studied art history, theory of literature, philosophy and humanities in Marburg, Perugia, Kassel and Berlin, and held teaching positions at TU Berlin, HU Berlin, University of Hamburg, University of Kassel. She was also a guest professor at Mills College in San Francisco. From 2000 to 2010, she was at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies in Berlin, Head of the Department "WissensKünste - Art of Knowledge and Knowledge of Arts."

Her research and teaching focus ranges from art and art theory to science studies and interdisciplinary issues of modern and contemporary art. Special topics are epistemology and methodology of contemporary art, praxis and theory of contemporary art, aisthesis and media of embodiment, and emotions and culture of the senses.

Recent publications include Sensing Senses. Die WissensKünste der Avantgarden. Künstlerische Theorie und Praxis zwischen Wahrnehmungswissenschaft, Kunst und Medien. 1915 – 1930, München, Fink-Verlag; Habitus in Habitat III – Synaesthesia and Kinaesthesis, ed. With Jan Soeffner & Joerg Fingerhut Bern & New York, 2011 and Habitus in Habitat I – Emotion and Motion, ed. with Daniel Margulies & Jan Soeffner Bern & New York, 2010.

 Frank Gillette

Frank Gillette

(New York City, USA)

Artist. Faculty, School of Visual Arts, Fine Arts Department. A pioneer of early video art, his work is in numerous private and permanent public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art and Tate Modern, London. He holds fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Dare Foundations, as well as the American Academy in Rome.

 

Sharon Hecker

(Los Angeles, USA)

Sharon Hecker is an art historian who specializes in modern and contemporary Italian art. She received her B.A. in Renaissance Studies cum laude from Yale University (1988) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History of Art from the University of California at Berkeley (1999). She is the recipient of several awards for her work, including a Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, a Fulbright Scholarship and a Mellon Fellowship. Sharon has also lectured and published articles on Lucio Fontana and Arte Povera’s Luciano Fabro, whose writings she translated for his first US retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1992. Her most recent and upcoming publications on Fabro include “Art is Gilmpsed” in J. Hirsh and I. Loring Wallace, eds., Contemporary Art and Classical Myth,(Ashgate Press, 2011), “If the Boot Fits... Luciano Fabro’s Italie” in G. Gazzola, ed., Italy from Without (SAGE Press, 2013), “Sealed Between Us: The Role of Wax in Luciano Fabro’s Tu” (Oxford Art Journal, March 2013), and “’Markets, Bacchanals and Gallows’: Luciano Fabro’s Italia all’asta in Piazza Plebiscito in Naples (2004)” in A. Nova and S. Hanke, eds. Platzanlagen und ihre Monumente: Wechselwirkungen zwischen Skulptur und Stadtraum, (Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2013).

 Heather Hess

Heather Hess

(New York City, USA)

Heather Hess is an art historian specializing in the changing aesthetics of dining and the banquet since the Renaissance. In particular, she focuses on meat carving, napkin folding, porcelain, and edible materials made into objects purely for visual consumption. She also recently contributed to a major research project on German Expressionist printmaking at the Museum of Modern Art and has studied the roles of food and fashion in twentieth-century design. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Austrian-American Fulbright Committee, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harvard Art Museums, and others.

 Hobkinson

Caroline Hobkinson

(London, UK)

Born in 1979 in Cologne, Caroline Hobkinson creates one-off experimental dining experiences in both galleries and public and private spaces. She works with food as an artistic medium, especially as in the ritual and spectacle of eating. Trained at Central Saint Martin’s, she has created, curated, choreographed and cooked experimental feasts for the Royal Academy, Salone Milano, Haus der Kulturen, the Barbican, several Scottish Whiskey distilleries and the Gwangju Biennale. At times she cooks by herself; sometimes she collaborates with Michelin-starred head chefs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Independent, Die Zeit, The Evening Standard and many other publications. Her three favorite ingredients are fishing wire, helium and liquid nitrogen. She lives, works and eats in London and Berlin.

 Viktoria von Hofmann

Viktoria von Hofmann

(Liege, Belgium)

Viktoria von Hoffmann studied history at the University of Liège in Belgium. She obtained her PhD in 2010 with a dissertation entitled “Tasting the World. A Cultural History of Taste in the Early Modern Era,” soon to be turned into a book. She’s currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher for the National Fund of Scientific Research (FNRS). In her research she focuses on cultural history, food studies and the history of senses, especially the so-called lower senses such as taste and touch.

 

 

 

 

 Tom Huhn

Tom Huhn

(New York City, USA)

Tom Huhn is a philosopher and critic who is also the Chair of the Art History Department and BFA Visual & Critical Studies Department at the School of Visual Arts.  Huhn’sbooks include: Imitation and Society: The Persistence of Mimesis in the Aesthetics of Burke, Hogarth, and Kant; The Cambridge Companion to Adorno; The Semblance of Subjectivity: Essays in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory; co-author, The Wake of Art: Criticism, Philosophy, and the Ends of TastePublications include: Art in America, New German Critique, Art & Text, Oxford Art Journal, British Journal of Aesthetics, Art Criticism, Telos, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Art Book.   Curatorial works include: “Between Picture and Viewer: The Image in Contemporary Painting,” Visual Arts Gallery; “Ornament and Landscape,” Apex Gallery; “Still Missing: Beauty Absent Social Life,” Visual Arts Museum and Westport Arts Center, CT.

 Suzanne Joelson

Suzanne Joelson

(New York City, USA)

The day after her graduation from Bennington College Suzanne Joelson started a job with a
touring theatre company and did not return to school until she began teaching at Rhode Island
School of Design nine years later.
Since then she has taught in the graduate programs at Bard Columbia Rutgers SVA and the University of Tennesse at Knoxville. She now teaches exclusively in the Fine Arts program here at SVA. She has shown her work in the United States and Europe. She has received awards from the American Academy of Art , the National Academy of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tiffany Foundation.
Suzanne has written for and been written about in numerous publications including Artforum, Art in America, Bomb, Time Out. She edited 2 issues of Tema Celeste.

 Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma

(London, UK)

Lisa Ma is a Speculative Designer & Researcher whose recent work is a kind of service design with a twist. Lisa holds a Masters Degree in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, and a BA in Art, Design & Environment from Central St. Martins. She has worked professionally as a designer at Conran and Pentagram in London and most recently in service design for Deutsche Telekom T-Labs in Berlin. Lisa shares her adventures at fringejoyride.com, and is currently based in London.

 

 

 

 

 Anne McBride

Anne McBride

(New York City, USA)

Culinary program and editorial director for strategic initiatives at The Culinary Institute of America, where her responsibilities include leading the programming for the Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival. She co-authored Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home and Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food, and, with famed pastry chef François Payard, Chocolate Epiphany and Bite Size. Ms. McBride is working towards a Ph.D. in food studies at New York University, where she taught for six years. She is the director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective, an interdisciplinary group of more than 2200 scientists, chefs, media, scholars, and food enthusiasts, and regularly writes on topics related to professional and experimental cooking, including contributions to Gastronomica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, and Food Cultures of the World. She is a board member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, was a two-term board member of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, and is a judge for the James Beard Awards.

 Fabio Parasecoli

Fabio Parasecoli

(New York City, USA)

Fabio Parasecoli is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Food Studies at the New School in New York City. His work explores the intersections among food, media, and politics. He studied East Asian cultures and political science in Rome, Naples and Beijing, where he specialized in contemporary Chinese history. After covering Middle and Far Eastern political issues, he worked for many years as the US correspondent for Gambero Rosso, Italy's authoritative food and wine magazine. He is program advisor at Gustolab, a center for food and culture in Rome, and collaborates with other higher education institutions such as the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona; ALMA the Graduate School of the University of Bologna, and the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Italy). Food Culture in Italy (2004), the introduction to Culinary Cultures in Europe (The Council of Europe, 2005) and Bite me! Food in Popular Culture (2008) are among his recent publications.  He is general editor with Peter Scholliers of a six-volume Cultural History of Food (2012), and his History of Food in Italy is slated for publication in 2013.

 

 Christian Sauer

Christian Sauer

(Salzburg, Austria)

Christian Sauer PhD, studied art history and philosophy at the Universities of Regensburg, Germany and Paris. After an internship at the Musée du Louvre and the Musée Picasso, he’s currently teaching as assistant professor at the University of Salzburg. 

His particular interests are in European modernisms and contemporary art as well as in aesthetics. He has published several articles on Surrealist art, Picasso and Dalí. His PhD thesis, an in-depth analysis of Salvador Dalí’s theater and film projects, is forthcoming in 2013.

Christian Sauer is currently pursuing a new project that analyses the distinctions between the senses and aesthetics as well as the different ways aroma and taste are represented or even used as a material in art.

 

Gary Sherman

Gary Sherman

(New York, USA)

Fine artist; Assistant to the Chair, BFA Fine Arts, SVA

Gary Sherman earned his BFA and MFA at the School of Visual Arts. His one-person exhibitions include The Phatory LLC, and group exhibitions include Fractured Atlas; Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA; Library of Congress, Washington, DC and Exit Art. His work is in the collection of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. He has published in The Shark and La Vigie-Art Contemporain.

 

 

 

 

 

 Elaine Tin Nyo

Elaine Tin Nyo

(New York, USA)

Elaine Tin Nyo is a conceptual artist who has kept a studio and kitchen in New York since 1984. She received a BFA in Painting from Carnegie Mellon University. Her culinary education consists of the voracious study of cookbooks and practical experience alongside professional chefs and artisans around the world. She has cooked, performed and exhibited internationally.

Her photographs, food, videos, installations, and performances have been presented at Postmasters Gallery, the New Museum, Deitch Projects, Creative Time, Färgfabriken, the Brooklyn Museum, BlindSpot Magazine, Chez Bushwick, Bupyeong Museum, Josée Bienvenu and French Culinary Institute. She has received project support from the Bronx Museum, Seoksu Art Project, Franklin Furnace, The Phillips Collection and others.

At the core of her practice is the investigation of how visceral experiences, such as eating, define us. Her work explores the intersection of responsibility and sensuality. In the name of art, she has danced with strangers at a Harley-Davidson dealership; stood knee-high in fermenting skate in Korea; raised 10,000 worms to make soil in her apartment, and lived in a tipi on a frozen lake…and lived to tell about it. Her current interests involve the poetics of meat and mortality. She tries to discuss classical verse with butchers whenever possible.

 Ana Maria Ulloa

Ana Maria Ulloa

(New York City, USA)

Ana Maria Ulloa is a PhD student in Anthropology at the New School, in New York City. She is currently working on her dissertation, which explores flavor as an epistemic object that brings together commercial, scientific, and aesthetic interests. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 César de Vega

César de Vega

(Germantown, MD, USA)

César Vega earned his doctorate in Food Science from the University College Cork. His areas of expertise include dairy emulsions, the physical chemistry of cocoa and the science of cooking. He has published 20+ peer-reviewed manuscripts and one book.

Currently he is a research manager at Mars Botanical, a division of Mars, Incorporated where his main responsibility is the design of cocoa flavanol-containing foods. He also provides guidance in the area of food material science for the larger Mars, Inc. business.

Dr. Vega is a passionate cook, having been trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Canada. He was one of the expert reviewers in Myrhvold’s Modernist Cuisine and  he is member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science (Elsevier) and of Food Biophysics (Springer). He is co-editor of and contributor to The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food & Cooking (Columbia University Press, 2012).

 Mathias Viegener

Matias Viegener

(California, USA)

Matias Viegener is an artist, author and critic who teaches at Cal Arts. He is one of the founders of the art collective Fallen Fruit, which has exhibited internationally in Mexico, Colombia, Denmark, Austria, and at LACMA, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and ARCO 2010 in Madrid. He writes regularly on art for X-tra and ArtUS, has recently published in Cabinet, Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Radical History Review, and Black Clock. He is the co-editor of Séance in Experimental Writing and The Noulipian Analects.  His book of experimental non-fiction, 2500 Random Things About Me, Too has recently been published by Les Figues Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tom Huhn

Grahame Weinbren

(New York City, USA)

Grahame Weinbren is a filmmaker and media artist, known for his pioneering work in interactive cinema.  He writes about cinema and media art, is a member of the graduate faculty of the School of Visual Arts, and senior editor of the Millennium Film Journal. "Still Life with Banquet," a collaboration with "slow food" chef Kitty Greenwald, was a banquet for 108 diners accompanied by six large video projections, produced for ZERO ONE, the 2010 San Jose Biennial.

 

 

Robin Winters

(New York City, USA)

Robin Winters is a multimedia artist who was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He has exhibited in one-person shows at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, CA; Mary Boone Gallery, NY; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, IL; Brutto Gusto, Berlin; Beacon Project Space, NY; Corning Museum of Glass, NY; Brooke Alexander, NY; Michael Klein Gallery, NY; Museum of Modern Art; Willoughby Sharp Gallery, NY; Luhring, Augustine & Hodes Gallery, NY; Mo David Gallery, NY; Art Palace, NY; Jeffrey Hoffeld & Co., NY; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, NY; David Ebony Gallery, NY; Artists Space, NY; Rathbone Gallery, NY; Galerie Laage-Salomon, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Belgium His group exhibitions include:  De Appel, Amsterdam; Dinter Fine Art, NY;  Arizona State University Art Museum, AZ; Paula Cooper Gallery, NY; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; Contemporary Arts Museum, TX; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Silverstein Gallery, NY; Plus Ultra Gallery, NY; Queens Museum of Art, NY; Anton Kern Gallery, NY; Brutto Gusto, Berlin; Edward Thorp Gallery, NY; Franklin Parrasch Gallery, NY; Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneve, Geneva; Willoughby Sharp Gallery, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Brooke Alexander Gallery, NY. His work is held in the collections of the  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, PA; Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; Smithsonian Museum, D.C.; The Kitchen, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; “Sol Lewitt Collection”, Wadsworth Atheneum, CT; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, the Netherlands; Museum Van Hedendaagse Kunst, Belgium; Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, the Netherlands. He has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
Winters’ work has been featured in  Art in America, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Miami Herald, Art International, Artforum, NCR Handelsblad, Archis, Elle, art press, Art + Auction, Bomb and  AVENUE Magazine.

 Ann-Sargent Wooster

Ann-Sargent Wooster

(New York City, USA)

Ann-Sargent Wooster, born in Chicago, lives and works in New York City. She is an artist, writer, historian, performance artist and critic who teaches art history at the School of Visual Arts.  Her criticism has appeared in most of the major art magazines and papers: Art in America, Artforum, Afterimage, High Performance and The Village Voice. Her  award winning videotapes, paintings and performances have been widely shown at the Kitchen, the Black Maria Festival, the Movie Channel, the Pompidou Center, the San Francisco Film Festival, Women in the Director’s Chair, P.S.122, the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, the Chicago Art Institute, The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Sony Visions of U.S., the New Arts Program, and numerous other venues. She studied with Robert Wilson at the Byrd Hoffman Foundation and appeared in the Dollar Value of Man at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also performed in Lawrence Weiner’s film, “Do you believe in water.” Awards include the Logan Grant for New Writing on Photography and an artist’s fellowship in video from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Some of her books include Art Since 1945 (Shorewood Publishers);  Quiltmaking (Drake Publishers); the video section Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move Into the Main Stream; chapters on Arshile Gorky, Willem De Kooning, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe in American Painting, Donald Goddard, author, (Goodman Publishers); She wrote the catalogue essay for the traveling show “The First Generation: Women and Video, 1970-75,” organized by Independent Curators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Register Online

 

Please note: Time and speakers are subject to change

 

Molecular Cuisine:
The politics of Taste

http://molecularcuisine.sva.edu
October 19-21, 2012

General admission: $75
Student admission: $25
Register online

Location

School of Visual Arts
Fine Arts Building
335 West 16th Street
New York, New York 10011
(+1) 212.592.2510

Conference Organizers

Suzanne Anker
Chair, BFA Fine Arts Department
School of Visual Arts, NYC
contact@suzanneanker.com

Sabine Flach
Visiting Professor
BFA Fine Arts Department 
School of Visual Arts, NYC
sflach@sva.edu