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Concrete Abstractions

Food has been a running narrative in my work for the past couple years. Jan to April 2020, I took part in two programs, Saari Residency in Mynamaki, Finland and ORTung Hintersee in Austria, that allowed me further delve into combing food with games. I’m fascinated by how modern society uses game mechanics to create self governing rituals: business hours, religions, rules of social interaction…all thrive on predictability and incentive levers. These rules feel so real, yet also so abstract. On the other hand, food is concrete. You can see it, smell it, and sometimes taste it before it ever hits your mouth. I’m interested in combining food and games to create a new genre of interactions that draw equally from concrete and abstract concepts.  

I came to both with the intention of creating a library of sensory interactions that can be used for games, dinners, social experiments, or any piece meant to surprise people and make new friends. Coming here gave me the time and space to prototype, share ideas, and start thinking about how rituals turn into games.

Home Cooked

“Home” Cooked is a physical manifestation of how distinct cultural traditions have been founded upon a longstanding history of global exchange and migration. It looks at how a foreign ingredient makes its way into a new country and integrates into a region’s existing food vocabulary.

At its core, our game opens up a dialogue on how food acts as an ambassador between regions, highlighting distinct flavors different places bring despite using the same ingredients. The game is merely lubrication for the real art of it all, exchanges between completely different people bonding over love of something so integral to human experience – good food. 

Unfortunately due to Covid-19, my collaborator, Grace, and I were forced to return to our respective homes and have been unable to continue the project for the time being. This will be an ongoing project that we’ll pick up once we’re allowed to travel again.

Remote Intimacy

At the end of our time at Saari, Grace and I teamed up with a fellow resident, Zden a choreographer and dancer, for a new project, Remote Intimacy, which builds sensory solidarity in surreal times by sharing tastes and touch over the web.

The first, Garlic Med. Eat. Ation, creates sensory solidarity by exploring how intimacy can be shared remotely/virtually through touch and taste. Garlic releases allicin, an antioxidant compound responsible for the ‘hot’ sensation. The very same compound prevents the common cold. We combine the awakening experience and medicinal benefits of eating raw garlic with a guided meditation to create a lived metaphor for our current surreal reality. Garlic is a reflection of the shocking situation we live in while meditation is an exercise in embracing the chaos to find the calm within. Garlic itself might be seen as a combination of calm and shock. Its smooth white body represents calm, while the inner acidic flavor creates a shock that forces our bodies to react and respond in very different ways. Each of us is going through the same pandemic, but we all have different reactions to it. Our individual reaction to garlic is meant to bring a sense of group solidarity. 

If you’d like to try this meditation yourself, email me at hello@jenkatanyo.com

Garlic Med.Eat.Ation

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