open data workshop

What’s the taste of data? The Data Cuisine workshop in Barcelona

How does a tortilla taste whose recipe is based on well-being data in Spain? Would you rather like the cake based on the science funding 2005 or in 2013? Can you imagine how a fish dish can represent the emigrants from Spain to countries across the world?


The second Data Cuisine workshop took place in Barcelona on June 10-13, 2014  as part of the Big Bang Data exhibition at CCCB, and in coordination with Sónar.
For the culinary side of the project, we collaborated with Sebastian Velilla, a fantastic chef who has worked for the Alícia Foundation and is currently involved in the activities of the Torribera Food and Nutrition Campus of the University of Barcelona.datacuisine_BCN1
On four afternoons, twelve participants explored data of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with culinary means.
The first two afternoons were about getting into the methodology and coming up with quick ideas how to represent topics and data with dishes. We got some inspiration from our exclusive visit to Ferran Adrià’s BullipediaLab, an emerging space dedicated to the research of food creativity.
datacuisine_BCN2We spent the second half of the workshop in the kitchen, where the participants refined their recipes and made first tests and prototypes. On the last day, the participants, of which many worked in groups of two or three, produced their final dishes. The workshop ended with a presentation and tasting of all data dishes.
datacuisine_BCN3
Thanks go to José Luis de Vicente and Olga Subiros for bringing us over, and our fantastic participants, especially Luis Fraguada, who brought a food printer, which we will surely hear more of in the future.
All results of the Barcelona workshop and more images can be found on the Data Cuisine website. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter
. The Data Cuisine workshops are led by Susanne Jaschko and Moritz Stefaner.


 

book process + art

Autopsy of an Island Currency published and available online

MoneyLab-digiflyer

Autopsy of an Island Currency was launched last weekend at Camp Pixelache in Helsinki. The book documents and reflects on the Suomenlinna Money Lab project––an artistic research project that tried to create an experimental local currency for the small island of Suomenlinna near Helsinki.

You can download the free PDF of the book here.

The general aim of the Money Lab was to engage with the specifics of a local setting by working with local people and creating a project that would generate interesting research and be beneficial to local dynamics. It was an ambitious attempt to explore and affect a unique place and its social dynamics through participatory art and design practice. The project was initiated by Susanne Jaschko / prozessagenten and produced by Pixelache, a cultural organisation in Helsinki, who together invited artist Christian Nold to develop a project for Helsinki.

The book describes the project’s process in detail trough a combination of first-person narration and ‘artefacts’, a wide selection of documented materials in the form of emails, notes, sketches, announcements and reflections. The publication also analyses the project’s challenges, such as the internal social dynamics and power structures of the island, which the Suomenlinna Money Lab project rendered visible. In addition, commissioned essays by authors Jaromil, Chris Lee, Pekko Koskinen, Antti Jauhiainen and Suzana Milevska contextualise the project and discuss subjects such as the challenges of participatory art, the value and hybrid nature of participatory projects, and the potentials of alternative money systems. The book is aimed at practitioners who work at the intersection of art, research and social action. It should be particularly useful for people working on alternative money models or on participatory projects that request a high degree of people’s commitment.

open data workshop

New edition of Data Cuisine Workshop in Barcelona

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We are very excited to announce a new edition of the Data Cuisine Workshop! It will take place in Barcelona, June 10-13, 2014, as part of the program around the Big Bang Data exhibition at CCCB, and in coordination with Sónar. For the culinary side of the project, we will collaborate with Sebastián Velilla, a master chef who has worked for the Fundació Alícia and the Academic Unit UB-Bullipèdia-CETT.

report symposium

Challenges and Limits of Collaboration

This year’s MutaMorphosis Conference in Prague was entitled Tribute to Uncertainty and offered a wide programme of sessions, but browsing the program one could not ignore the attention that the organisers had paid to what is going on in the field of art + science and in particular Bio Art. I had been invited to speak about Challenges of Participation in a session that was similarly called The Limits and Challenges of Collaboration and that was curated by Manuela Naveau from Ars Electronica. Together with me on the panel were Galia Offri and her partner Mushon Zer-Aviv as well as Mirko Tobias Schaefer, Assistant Professor for New Media & Digital Culture Utrecht University. Mirko is also the author of Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production at Amsterdam University Press.

In Prague, Mirko gave an analysis of participatory culture limiting user agency, focussing on social media. In his talk he revealed the discrepancy between social media’s official narrative of being participatory systems and their true nature of limiting participation and massively channelling user activities. He spoke about social media’s ephemeral design elements: Like, View, Endorse, Favourite, ReTweet, RePin, and how they lower the threshold to become an “active” user. On-line activity is minimised to clicking a button, but gets maximum attention. Social media also initiate the economics of rewards. Mirko went on discussing elements of corporate control limiting user activities such as moderation, automated, distributed (through ‘flag’ and ‘report’) and human content review. The final part of his presentation centred on the expansion of the public sphere through social media and the problem of corporations shaping policies for this new public space.

From Wikipedia Illustrated:Hikikomori, literally "pulling away, being confined", i.e., "acute social withdrawal") is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement because of various personal and social factors in their lives.

Galia and Mushon presented their project Wikipedia Illustrated. This project entails the illustration of 26 Wikipedia articles, a blog to share the process, a book and a number of workshops. Through these activities the authors hope to draft a new path for a visual free culture. And indeed, Wikipedia looks like it can benefit from such artistic activism. Wikipedia pages don’t allow much visual information and while the textual information usually goes through various versions and updates, graphics don’t permit this kind of collaborative process. So it’s individual authors who insert images which are accepted by the community or dismissed. But the ‘simple’ act of creating and adding images that communicate the content or theme of a Wikipedia article in an illustrative and metaphorical way opens up a discussion of how much visual poetry Wikipedia can take before it looses its reputation as a factual medium and if contributors can change its rules. This project shows quite plainly and painfully how little room Wikipedia and similar collaborative platforms offer for reformation.

review workshop

Interview in ESSEN magazine


Today we are full of data and information that not everyone can follow and understand and for this reason is spreading what’s called infographics. We can say that the proposed data cuisine produces a sort of ‘infofood’? Why you think it’s important to use food as a means of communication, or even as a means of information?

A lot of communication takes place around food. We are sitting around the dinner table, eating and having conversations. We stand in our kitchen, while we cook and talk. Food and communication are closely connected, both are social, and they can be personal and emotional. We just took this idea one step further by creating food and cooking meals as means of communication. We were interested to see if translating numeric information into tasty dishes would create different and more personal experiences of data. And it did. First of all, we all, both teachers and participants, learned a lot about Helsinki and Finland. We used local and national Open Data of all sorts. Of course, this data represents much more than simple facts, it tells stories about the Finnish society that most of us were not aware of. Then we used a lot of local ingredients like salmon, red beets, reindeer, suppilovahvero (a Finnish winter mushroom) and blueberries to make up dishes.

This meant learning a lot about the ingredients themselves, where they come from, how they are grown and harvested, about their nutrients and cultural meanings. I suppose that we were all quite surprised about the individual approaches and different results that the participants produced. Some decided to make a quite literal translation from numbers into amounts of ingredients. Others worked on the idea of the map and visualised the location-specific data. Again others tried to work less with the visual design but differences in taste. In that way all dishes were informative.

In the “Open Data Cooking Workshop” that you recently did in Helsinki participants were to prepare a dish combining ingredients and data. In your opinion, was it difficult for them to participate in the workshop and revise data with food?

Open Data Cooking is a very unusual experiment that nobody tried before. On the first day we gave introductions into information visualisation and cooking, local and seasonal cuisine as well as the situation of open data. Then we asked participants to do a exercise in which they had to randomly pick two data topics and four ingredients and think of meaningful relations between them and come up with ideas for dishes. It takes quite some associative thinking and imagination to bring those things together and it’s naturally easier for people with a creative practice.

Do you think that, with regard to the visual approach, this one could be more incisive for conveying information than others? In your opinion, can somebody external understand this data more easily?

Making up recipes, cooking, arranging food and tasting it is certainly not the straightest way to represent and understand data, but it is a a very sensuous and personal one. I would not necessarily speak of easy understanding, but of a deeper experience of data and its meaning.

Not so many people are interested in a so specific way in the relationship between food and data. Which is or was the deep need that brings you and your collaborators to start this research?

Most importantly I was looking for an interesting way to make people look at publicly available data and deal with it in an non-standardised way. I believe that art and design processes like the collective research we are talking about, enable us to see our society from a very different angle than the one that is presented to us by science, politics, history or mass media.

I saw some of the dishes that have been made during the workshop and they are very communicative, inviting and very different from each other. How important do you think is the sensibility of the creator who is preparing the dish? How important is his/her background?

The participants in this workshop had different backgrounds ranging from law student to software programmer. But that did not necessarily define their individual approaches. But they were all curious and open minded which I believe is a necessary prerequisite for such a collaborative research experience.

If we ask you to realise now a dish in line with data cuisine, which culinary variables and data would you put together?

A topic which I came across in our Helsinki workshop was gender related difference in salary. Women with the same qualification as men on average are paid less than them in most European countries. Surprisingly, in Germany this gender gap is smaller than I expected it to be. So I would probably compare women’s and men’s wages of another country like France where the difference is blatant. And I would choose potatoes because I associate them with women more than with men and green beans to represent the male. But this is just a first and spontaneous idea and at our workshop I learned that the deeper you go with research on the ingredients, the better ideas you produce.

This interview was published in Essen magazine, a Milano based on-line magazine. Questions by Giulia Tacchini, answers and reblogging by Susanne Jaschko, prozessagenten.