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March 2013 – Workshop 1

Food Preparation as Interface: Research and development of processes leading to moments of interaction between disparate ingredients and traditions

Research Question: How can the exploration of fusion food in a group dynamic aid in developing new material processes and methods for interdisciplinary practice?

Sub-Questions: How is the individual process altered through exposure to group dynamics?
What is the individual’s role throughout an interdisciplinary process?

Proposal: As a functionally tangible model food preparation, more specifically “fusion food” preparation will serve as the basis for exploration of collaborative situations. Workshop participants, through shared individual knowledge and the willingness to explore unfamiliar material will generate new insight into this type of work.

Fusion cuisine; the act of combining various culinary traditions is normally the result of an influx of migrants into a community. The inhabitants consciously and or most often unconsciously adopt the new cultures culinary traditions. Qatar’s historic relationship to trade routes and nomadic populations, as well as the current massive transplant population make it an ideal place to examine both new and historic forms of fusion food. Conference members will act as a micro migrant influx being that Tasmeem 2013 will bring a broad range of individuals to an already migrant rich population.  Through the pairing of participants (approximately 12 in total) and their exposure to new products based on local access (the Souk and local fresh fish market) we hope to replicate the fusion process and facilitate culinary experimentation as a model for and parallel process to the hybrid environments of art and design.

The complexity of today’s problem: The complexity and scale of today’s problems require many disciplines working together to provide solutions. Organizations such as Mattel, Steelcase, Boeing, Wrigley, Procter & Gamble, and the Mayo Clinic have discovered that hybrid working environments can be a powerful tool and useful when the desire to move beyond barriers that were formed as a result of an assembly line like process. In these labs inventors from different disciplines gather like a swarming beehive to focus on a problem. They brainstorm and tinker with different approaches to generate innovative answers.

Artists and designers working in these domains will need insightful research tools and methods, taking on tasks in collaboration with individuals from various fields. The contemporary position of the creative practitioners will expand beyond traditional practice. Parties will be called upon to think flexibly and fluidly, to posses numerous tools for problem seeking as well as solving. These practitioners will also need to look at the micro and macro aspects of a system, to listen, respect differences and empathize with others. In its best possible form creative practice, whether design or the fine arts might not be
an entity all to itself but a profession that exists in a symbiotic relationship with the specific field it is in collaboration with.

In this instance participants in our workshop will be working in the field of culinary art. Culinary art might best be described as an interface. That is to say in its essence food preparation is about the moment of connection or interaction between two or more disparate elements. This can be the simple action of placing ingredients in sequence for consumption (in which the order of consumption effects the way the individual element
 is processed) or it can be a more complete fusion as in cookery or baking in which the elements are altered and merged through mixing and heat (in this case creation of an entirely new flavor through process is coupled with the sequence of elements). This view of culinary art as interface allows us to look at the field not as separate but rather equal and parallel to art and design.

 With that in mind it is our goal to experiment with preexisting complex interfaces or recipes to produce new or modified function. By taking methods and material familiar to the individual (heirloom recipes) and exposing them to the methods already familiar to new collaborators
 we hope to generate new and useful hybrids. When the materials and practices specific
 to a new region (in this case the recipes, ingredients and cooking methods of Qatar) are introduced the hybrid possibilities are exponentially increased. This process mimics the natural technological progression in culinary art. In fact in this case it is useful to look at food preparation as a manifestation of technology. Even the simplest recipe functions as both a historical document (capturing the entire evolution of individual technologies and cultural influences) and as the current design for replication.

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Workshop Deliverable: Using systems or “recipes” familiar to the individual as the base of exploration will allow the progress of this technological evolution can be mapped. The essential need to define methods to improve the process and quality of design requires not only a resulting recipe but in our case a method map or historical model in order to better understand the evolution of the recipe itself. The resulting deliverable will be first, new and possibly delicious cuisine, as well as additional elements to be selected from scenarios below. We are interested in bringing this workshop to multiple conferences around the globe which will require an ongoing publication to begin with collaborators from Tasmeem 2013 and continue with new contributions from future conferences.

Favorable Deliverable Scenarios

A. Fast Food Take Out Containers – with local spices, fusion recipes and corresponding method maps

B. Recipe Card Box – Containing the workshop fusion recipes and their corresponding method maps

C. video describing process, success and failure.

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