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Monday, October 19, 2009

Project Recap No. 8 - Gustatory Folly...

Some of the vernacular elements affecting the ingestion of the tidbit...


This is a project of 'what ifs'. What if one switched the colour cartridges on the Z Corp’s Z510 System (a 3D Rapid Prototyping 'printer') to distribute flavours instead of colours? And, what if, instead of using an epoxy as a binder use something digestible, perhaps a glucose mix or a digestible polymer, to bind the powder particles together. These ideas are not too far fetched as similar techniques have been used in the customization of pills, which can be made bespoke to a particular individuals medical needs and, as this particular three dimensional printer (3DP) uses either a gypsum or starch based material, the latter which is edible, to fabricate its objects, it lends itself very naturally for the fabrication of something to be experienced through gustatory means.

The tidbit interacting with its setting...

The project was also interested in touching upon the idea of food consumption as entertainment, or as an experiential event. As much of what we eat, particularly today, has very limited nutritional value. Candies, pastries, soda-pop, various titbits and sweet-meats, as well as different ‘diet’ product which boast about their lack of calories and nutrition, all involve oral intakes which are much more about the experience of consuming flavours and textural compositions rather than their dietary attributes. They are, in a sense, more about a limbic and (flavour based) aesthetic craving than a dietary necessity. A case of a more folly-esque, sensory and sensual experience, than a utilitarian one. It is within this realm the ‘Gustatory Folly’ dwells. It endeavoured to explore the gustatory qualities through the use of a specific additive fabrication process which allows for an edible piece to be built. It also examines the literal process of digestion of the design - how different flavours can be released, intermingled and sequenced.

A chart breaking down the various elements of the tidbit's digestion - dispensation of flavours, pace of mastication, release and quantity of saliva, swallowing, etc.

Using the model a new design can be envisaged. Taking the standard CMYK colours, used in a printing process Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, and replacing them with the generic flavours of Salty, Sweet, Bitter and Sour, and with the doughy nuance of Umami (sometimes considered the fifth flavour) added as an gustative catalyst, one could add a new idiom into the annals of conceiving things through additive fabrication.

A sectional view of the tidbit's, layer by layer, digestion...
These flavours would be applied into a multi-layered ‘architectural-tidbit’ (a chewable and digestible item) you put in your mouth, the 'site' onto/ into which the brief is applied. Here the gustatory logistics are analyzed from a more spatial, procedural, mechanical, tactile, olfactory, and culturally semiotic (architectural) tack. This entails exploring how the various layers of the tidbit will dissolve and collapse, and how they consequently blend and interact with each other. The project also considers how saliva, the pace of mastication and breathing, the motility of the tongue, and how the disparate flavours and senses would commingle and interact.


Stereolithography rendition of the Gustatory Tidbit...

An initial stereolithography (inedible and sour tasting) model was produced to get an physical manifestation of the tidbit. Its size, weight, texture and consistency seem, on the surface, appropriate, and according to initial expectations. However, further testing is needed to bring about a satisfactory example of the tidbit which would allow for a more truthful assessment to take place. The process also benefited (the charting of the mingling flavours and the reflected physical aspects of the tidbit) from the more adaptable sequencing of the Avaterial* model, which in its suppleness and interlinking of the conceptual and the physical fabrication aspect managed to converge into a coherent experience.

*Avaterial - is a portmanteau of the words 'Avatar' and 'Material' and describes the somewhat vague realm that digital fabrication occupies today, where the formative properties of a material can be re-configured through computing based means, usually through manipulating it at a minute level, to give it a bespoke set of attributes.
The Gustatory Tidbit is a part of the Sensory Follies - alongside the Fragrant (Olfactory) Follies (the Fragrant Tower & Fragrant Cocoon) and the Tactile Follies (Finger Run [click also here] and Snakeskin)...

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