Ideas (10/6)

(This is seriously just a word-salad)

A common thread among all three of us is the translation of material to food. Reinventing food and non-food matter in a way that is nourishing to mind/body/environment 

  • What does food look like for non-biological matter
  • Additionally what is a new food experience for non-humans, environmental nourishment
  • Food for ‘material vitality’ pertaining specifically to rocks
  • Food for rocks, food for non-humans
  • Stromatolites

Enclosed system that converts inanimate material into something else—something more complex but in essence, still non-food. We talked a little bit about how natural phenomena performed this process before there was a bounty of life’s building blocks. In the 20s, there emerged a theory that life’s building blocks were created entirely through lightning strikes. Obviously we know now that many different natural phenomena contributed to the creation of essential amino acids. The theory was then replaced by the idea that hydrothermal vents kick-started life. Now that theory is being replaced by the idea that organic nuclear reactors created more complex mineral pools that may have seeded oceans with the ingredients for life. We’re concerned, however, with the idea that these conditions can be reinvented for an anthropocenic condition. We’re finding some kind of parallel between the conditions that nourished non-organic matter with life and our own food consumption. We’re additionally interested in how former systems intended to vitalize matter can be applied to food. Can we reinvent the term “food” to encompass human and non-human simultaneously. 

GIZEM: Tyler is interested in duplicating the Miller Urey experiment and the primordial soup. I am interested in what happens when we radicalize our relationship to food and what happens when food is stripped down from all the BS, such as cultural context, emotional attachment, unnecessary ingredients. Still keeping the entangled relationship between mind, body, environment and using fermentation as a metaphor, I can totally imagine us coming up with a “system” where we produce edible “non-foods” (although they are the building blocks of foods today), producing them in an other-worldly fashion, creating a non-restaurant non-menu out of all this. Initially, it seems like a good concept to combine all three of us’ strengths and interests.

I think it’s a good thought experiment to try to combine our desires, strengths, and inclinations altogether. We realize that this is a long process and we might digress from time to time (just like now, I already feel like a lot has changed, but good!), but staying practical and loyal to purpose should keep us on our feet.

Stromatolite striations 

Oklo, organic nuclear reactor, scars of uranium in rock

Fossilized mushrooms

More Stromatolites


TO-DO until next Tuesday (10/8)

Answering these three questions:

  • What do we individually want to get out of this?

Interested in some kind of translation of matter. how artificial stand-ins for natural phenomena exist in an art/design format. 3 broad categories that the work falls into as of now: the process of eating, what our bodies do to process food, translation, and how our food intake has lasting implications–I fall into this category. 

  • What are our individual strengths?

Digital fabrication. biofabrication. Craft work: wood working, plastics, resins. Making work that exists in an art format 

  • What are our inclinations?

Self contained systems. Systems that ask questions outside of its own logic rather than posing questions about itself (question as an output or form of solution). Self-sustaining systems. System that solves its own questions, so scientific appeal in a design setting. 

Coming up with a storyboard/draft visual representation of our idea (idea subject to individual, we can compress it later)

Formal inspiration: 

Soft pneumatics 

Ideas (9/24)

These are just some other things I’m looking at that . Film seems like the next frontier for my work. Naturally, I think of the things I do in terms of its cinematic significance. Theres something equally scientific and cinematic in the works of Max Hooper Schneider who I’ve mentioned before. 

Max Hooper Schneider, Glowing Beluga Whale Bones

Fabian Knecht

Morgane Tschiember + Douglas Gordon

Paul Carlo Esposito

Enigmatic Group Therapy Station

Ways in which myth intrude scientific discovery. This is often a good thing in my opinion. David Rains Wallace, “The Human Element”, he calls for a renewed understanding of myth as it relates to human and non-human relationships. He argues that the so called ‘old-myths’ (rooted in tradition and survival) have since been revived by science and evolutionary theory. Science is often assumed as a means of burying myth and mystery. Wallace states the opposite. “Science has opened a potential for imaginative interpretation of nature that is enormously greater than the simple projection of human thoughts and feelings onto non-humans”.

scientific phenomenon existed in poetic/mythological terms before there was a discipline that described it: sci-fi. In that way I feel like my work is less “sci-fi” and more of a reclamation of myth through scientific means. 

Ideas (9/23)

Miller/Urey experiment mounted on a pinball machine

“Golden Record” aboard NASA’s Voyager 

Sketch of a Miller/Urey Primordial Soup machine that would impregnate water-rich soil with amino acids

system situated over small body of water, ‘caretaker’ of a body of water

Virtual Miller/Urey Experiment 

A variation of the Miller/Urey experiment situated in between art/science. Means of kick-starting life again, self-sustaining over many years. Gases extracted from organic waste matter. Seems as though hydrogen is easier to extract over long periods of time. Methane a byproduct of the biophotovoltaic work I was doing last year. 

What would the design scheme of life bearing technology look like. Design attempts at timelessness and the folly in that. The golden record attached to voyager. 

Additional Miller/Urey diagrams

Gases: CH4 (Methane), NH3 (Ammonia), H2 (Hydrogen), CO (Carbon Monoxide)


Methane made from bacterial source

Making methane gas, food waste (?). Post-Primordial soup 

Feedstock methane digester 

Hydrogen Gas:

Ways to extract hydrogen gas

hydrogen fuel cell

hydrogen from fermentation


Preferably with multiple necks

Means of continuing cycle, multiple necks required (?)

Will need a second larger flask with three necks, two can be sealed to hold tungsten rods. !!




Ideas (9/16)

Soviet Sanatorium 

There’s something drawing me to instances of ‘regressive science’. I guess I don’t really have a better word for (or way of) describing it, but it’s something that underlines my work nonetheless; The folly of recreating phenomenon that has existed for many thousands/millions/billions of years. The existence of ancient, organic nuclear reactors (additionally theorized as a potential source of life), and the subsequent history surrounding nuclear energy, the creation of nuclear power plants is decadence. 

After Oklo, all is decadence

Hydrothermal Vent Diorama

Max Hooper Schneider

Organic Nuclear Reactors:

Hydrothermal Vents:

Ideas (9/10/19)

Origins of life reactor

Nuclear geyser

Natural nuclear reactor

Ideas (9/10/19)

I believe cooking to be an extension of my creative process and have wondered if there’s an intersection to be made in terms of digital/bio fabrication. I’ve been drawn to fully automated hydroponics systems and have wondered what it would take to make one intended to facilitate the growth of mushrooms over the course of several years. In this case, I would imagine the system to be solar powered and low-energy in terms of operation and consumption. Im interested in growing the more-sought after mushrooms such as morels or truffles as they have become integral to my cooking.

Variation of the Miller/Urey Experiment

I’ve also tossed around the idea of creating a primordial soup machine that is sustained by renewable energy. I came across the work of Julia Child who repeated the experiments of Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in a more digestible format. The theory as it was developed in the 1920s and tested in the 1950s states that the basic building blocks of life came from simple molecules present in our atmosphere. On primitive Earth, carbon, hydrogen, water vapour, and ammonia reacted to form the first organic compounds. These chemicals were excited by energies such as lightning. Rain from the atmosphere formed organic soups (ponds, lakes). The first organisms would have to be simple heterotrophs in order to survive by consuming other organisms for energy before means of photosynthesis. They would become autotrophs by mutation. Darwin additionally spoke of a “warm pond” as the stage for this spontaneous generation, though its merit as a philosophical concept has existed for quite some time. Aristotle writes in his On the History of Animals that:

…with animals, some spring from parent animals according to their kind, whilst others grow spontaneously and not from kindred stock; and of these instances of spontaneous generation some come from putrefying earth or vegetable matter, as is the case with a number of insects, while others are spontaneously generated in the inside of animals out of the secretions of their several organs.

— Aristotle, On the History of Animals, Book V, Part 1

The philosophical implications of the work is in some ways equivalent to the work itself. The ability to create and sustain systems of primordial ‘life’ has bold scientific and ethical dimensions (though we understand the formation of what we describe as life from organic molecules to take millions and millions of years). The theory has since been updated to describe the primordial stage as the events that occur around and inside hydrothermal vents. 

Origins of life from porous hydrothermal vents

Austin Houldsworth Two Million & 1AD, Photo: Thierry Bal, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake

Austin Houldsworth’s 4m-tall Two Million & 1AD, an experimental ‘fossilisation machine’, referenced the discoveries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the burgeoning interest in acquiring, cataloguing and increasing the general knowledge base. The attempt to create a fossil using rudimentary, human-designed machines in place of truly natural processes was a folly of sorts, but one with a sting in its tail: Houldsworth’s project started with the attempt to petrify both a Tatton-grown pineapple and pheasant, but will only ‘naturally’ conclude when the artist is able to fossilise a human – there are no known petrified remains of Homo sapiens sapiens in the current fossil record. Shouldn’t there be?

Biodegradable underwater 3d printer

Waterproof 3d printer

Swamp based waterproof printer

Printing the mycelium networks of morels/truffles

High expense mushrooms

Lars Spuybroek: The Sympathy of Things

Spuybroek begins by describing an interchange (a sympathy) between the various elements that compose gothic architecture; columns, ribs, webs. The ‘Gothic’ in his words balance principles of engineering with principles of aesthetics and ornamentation. Both are in interplay; bent, manipulated and conformed to the will of the other. In this dance however, rigidity is formed. Gothic is in essence the pervasiveness of these principles, delicate forms that exist somewhere in between states of ornamentation and engineering. A way of navigating seemingly opposing natures of being. The decoration is what composes and forms strength. Increasingly thin and delicate stone is weaved into iron-like forms giving strength. Spuybroek calls for this sense of pervasiveness and plurality in life, architecture, and our relationship with machines. When I reread this text, I’m always compelled by this passage that in itself moves in and out of finality/concreteness:

…he never made such distinctions; for him, mountains, churches, and paintings were the result of what he called “help” and collaboration, and so should they be for us.The truth is, life is abstract; it pervades organic things as much as inorganic ones. And it is this abstract life of agency that makes the nature of Gothic fundamentally digital.

At different times it seems to have different meanings for me. Our relationship with the digital is often to enhance the computational power of the user, to organize human computation in a way that is not to reduce or humiliate. Additionally, machines are often used to enhance the human hand, to repeat labor without tire. Spuybroek argues that our relationship to machines should be reimagined under principles similar to the gothic cathedral; principles of collaboration, redundancy, savageness. Building, machining with codified material. I think Spuybroek’s use of “savagery” is fitting. Ornamentation is savage in the sense that it denies structure its ability to be structure, and I find it interesting that he tends to describe it as something non-human. As if ornamentation takes on its own naturalism.