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Putting people back into food futurism

January 27, 2012

As we begin our research for our DA4GA project, Edible Time Machine, we are putting the finishing touches on the EDIBLE exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. Three of the projects we are exhibiting in the show should give some indication of the direction we will be heading in over the next few months:




The Edible Time Machine project will seek out interesting ingredients and develop 5 recipes, providing five different ways to think through the future of food systems. Our research process runs concurrent with NCHA‘s Growing Older Together study, and will draw on the food preferences, memories and narratives of research participants as one source of inspiration.

One of the things we hope to contribute through this process to our collaborators and colleauges in the Life Sciences and Healthy Ageing research is a much more diverse, critical and nuanced way of imaging the future of food, and healthy ageing. Especially when employing the lens of Biotechnology and Genomics.

Most of the timelines and narratives we have run into that imagine the future of food and health through the lens of emerging technologies seem to return to the same top-down and techo-deterministic themes of:

* nutraceuticals
* genetic modification (transgenesis & cisgenesis)
* in-vitro meat
* vertical farms
* gene therapy
* personalized medicine
* entomophagy (eating insects) because it is “efficient”…etc.

Here are just two timelines of the future of technology (including food) that we have run into in the last this week:

Envisioning Emerging Tech
Envisioning Emergent Technology popped up in our blog feed today and includes these predictions for the near future:

* In-vitro meat
* vertical farming
* Smart Drugs
* Personalized Medicine
* Anti Ageing Drugs

Here is the timeline of Biotechnology from Naturalis:

It includes the following predictions for the future:

* “The last farm is closing down. Our food is increasingly being produced from algae grown in huge tanks.” (((That didn’t work out so well in Windup Girl. However, we ARE intrigued by the idea of a currency based on calories, instead of gold or fiat.)))

* “We have solved all of the mysteries of DNA, but have still not managed to eradicate diseases and death.”

* “Cloning humans is by now medically safe, and the ethical objections are diminishing.”

* “Barren areas, such as deserts, are now used for agriculture. Genetically engineered crops have made these areas fertile.”

* “People live even longer; hence the age of retirement rises to eighty years.” (((Is Greece getting a jump start on this one?)))

There are many well written critiques of technologically-deterministic-futurism including the recently penned The Future Isn’t What it Used To Be from a futurist insider, and the more academic Meals to Come (“accuracy is only one of many reasons why people make predictions.”), so we won’t rehash those arguments in this short space.

The Naturalis Biotechnology timeline exhibit is only one floor down from where our piece will be installed. We are hoping that our artwork serves as a counterpoint by explicitly including ethical, social, cultural and flavor aspects that don’t seem to be factored into much forecasting that uses Science & Technology as its lens.

Here is just a rough list of possible topics that we hope to pursue in the coming months:

* Culinary Eugenics / Biodiversity of the Kitchen / Resistance to Fungible Ingredients
* 2012 Paranoia / End of Empire / Doomer Food / Stockpiling / Hoarding
* Junk Science/ Fad diets / Fast Food Forecasting driving consumer & eater behavior
* Individuals doing things with food technology that were not intended
* The Culinary Innovations of Peak Oil / Economic Contraction / Energy Shortages / Climate Change


November 18, 2021 - December 12, 2021
Grafill, risography exhibition, Oslo, NO
October 24 - November 21, 2019
ClimATE, Aalto University, Espoo, FI.
March 1, 2018
Climate Fiction PT
October 21 - 29, 2017
Dutch Design Week: Embassy of Food
October 19 - 21, 2017
Experiencing Food (Lisbon)
Nov. 5 - Apr. 2, 2016
2116: Forecast of the Next Century
Nov. 5th, 2016
KiKK Festival Workshop