Looking back at a night of DELVE: Food + Art

On Tuesday, July 22nd, we were happy to host the DELVE Food + Art event with (and at) the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. For those who couldn't make it (or if you want to relive it again!), here is a recap of the night's activities and inspiration.

The Made in NY Media Center is an impressive place. A co-working community dedicated to start-ups focused on tech and storytelling, their expansive space includes classrooms, desk space, a cafe (opening soon), a 75-person theater, and a gorgeous gallery with a full-screen video wall. They have tons of other great programs, so be sure to sign up for their newsletter and check out an event there.

Starting off the night was Stefani Bardin, an artist who works with neuroscientists, biologists and gastroenterologists and the connection with technology. She sees herself "as a translator of information, action, and products that are put into the world by industrial food companies and their impact on our bodies and the environment," and her role is to share information so people are aware of what is in their food and where it comes from. She spoke about four projects. First, the Counter Kitchen (a collaboration with Brooke Singer), where they reverse engineered household goods and foods, such as Gatorade.

The video pill cam that Stefani Bardin passed around, used in M2A: The Fantastic Voyage.

The video pill cam that Stefani Bardin passed around, used in M2A: The Fantastic Voyage.

Next she talked about Casita Verde, a 5,000 square foot green space in Williamsburg (at the corner of Division and Bedford) that she and Brooke are developing now in response to Bloomberg's RFP for the anti-obesity task force. They are turning the plot into an innovation green space to show the relationship between food, soil, air and water through a research and development lab to explore cheap and efficient ways for urban farming to exist. They are bringing in artists and friends to help them maximize the use of the space, including The Tree of Forty Fruits by Sam Van Aken, a hybrid tree grafted from 40 different kinds of stone fruit trees that all bloom at the same time. Totally wild and amazing.

Then she explained M2A: The Fantastic Voyage, a pill cam project that looks at the inside of the GI tract via video to see the effects of processed foods versus whole foods on the body. And finally, Stefani explained M(y)crobes, a project that explores how microbes function in both positive and negative ways. She and her collaborators have created a wearable biosensor in order to "give the air a face." Fascinating stuff.

Next, James Collier is a photographer who told us his story of growing up in Louisiana, then his journey to Fresno, California and how his love for food developed into a career. For James, food is always something that brings people together. He moved to Fresno, the Bread Basket of California's Central Valley, and didn't find a conversation surrounding all of the beautiful crops and produce growing there, so he created a project called Taste Fresno that developed from an online hub to a large community full of in-person action. His goal was to get people excited to try new things and create new tastes. After years of Taste Fresno, he got involved with the online food frenzy and took a new view on making photographs of how food is made, and is really drawn to hands making food and the documentation of how food is harvested. Be sure to check out the great blog post James wrote earlier about other inspirations of his. His passion for growing, simplicity, sharing, and making food was contagious and beautifully illustrated by his photographs. 

A water sample based on the data of fresh water found in Ethiopia according to Edible Infographics by a razor, a shiny knife 

A water sample based on the data of fresh water found in Ethiopia according to Edible Infographics by a razor, a shiny knife 

The group then moved out into the gallery to experience the work and projects of Michael J. Cirino of a razor, a shiny knife, a collaborative that started about eight and a half years ago. He walked us through some amazing, smart projects, such as when they served an elaborate six-course meal on the L Train, called the L Train Lunch.

He quickly dove into the topic of water, the source of inspiration for the participatory project of the evening: Edible Infographics. Why water? Having access to clean water correlates directly to the ability of societies to develop and thrive. There are currently many communities in the world where water is incredibly scarce. Through this project, Michael strives to bring awareness to this fact. In the video above, Michael generously explained all the science that drives his work and how we can better understand how he makes his art. A hydrocolloid is a solid substance dispersed into another substance, so in this case he changed the density of NYC tap water to represent different samples of water sources around the word. By using agar agar and xantham gum, "he created a relationship between the density of the water and the availability of an improved water source in each of the countries" he is exploring. By showing us data and giving us physical representation of the data, he was able to cause a very physical discomfort that relates directly to the water issues around the world.

And finally, Emilie Baltz shared her equally amazing projects with us and then engaged the crowd in a little physical play. Originally trained as a screen writer, industrial designer and modern dancer, her practice has evolved into a unique, maybe inexplicable artistic territory, so she casually stated that she "makes stuff and uses food as a material." The stuff she makes incorporates design, the body,  performance and always food, which she see as a material for identity and community building. For the past five years, she has explored the boundaries of what food can be. The Love Food Book looked at the emotion of love and food and via this project, she "did a deep dive into aphrodisiacs at the Museum of Sex in New York City." What came out of this are new narratives about desire that exist in cocktail recipes at Play, the bar at the Museum of Sex, and create different points of entry into how we drink and desire, and consume in the public space.

How does the body engage with food? That is what she explored in a residency at Monkey Town, where she looked at the skins of the ingredient (magnified by a high powered microscope onto a screen), then the performer (herself), and the rest of the audience (the eater.) Food is a vehicle for communication, conversation, and knowledge, and acts throughout all different spaces and industries throughout the world. Then, Emilie encouraged the crowd to pinch each others' noses and experience eating and drinking without that sense, and also to explore their food, drinks and corporality under her microscope, projected for the crowd to see. It was a great way to end the night.

Thank you to the amazing artists who presented their fascinating work: Stefani, James, Michael and Emilie, the entire staff at the Made in NY Media Center, our generous sponsors, Brooklyn Brewery and One Girl Cookies, and all of the amazing guests. We hope to see you again soon!

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