day one (and prior) of Biochymickal Arts 2013

Welcome to Biochymickal Arts, a part of Splinterfields, a series of technological arts workshops and field-tests, hosted by Constant, FoAM, nadine and OKNO. This series is designed to foster collaborative learning about tools and mindware needed for experiments in contemporary culture. I'd also like to welcome you to FoAM, a lab for speculative culture, where we put diverse people together in temporary situations to ask “what if” or “how could things be otherwise”. One such question lead us to ask “what if arts, crafts, sciences and humanities didn't fragment into specialised fields? What if it all remained under the umbrella of philosophy of life? What would happen if we could bring all of these splintered fields back together again? Most of our practices borrow, lean on or can be (partially) demystified by one or another science. At the same time, sciences have built on, or emerged from pre-scientific knowledge, including traditional crafts and technologies. The links between all of these fields grow (and have grown) from the curious minds and hands who don't care about the artificial separations between disciplines. For a long while discoveries in the arts and the sciences went hand in hand. In early modern science theory, lab practice, stories, language, symbolic imagery and even religious views were tightly interwoven. Today's transdisciplinary practices are returning to the ideas behind the need to entangle different disciplines: looking at the complex problems that we're dealing with in a globalised and interconnected world.

With these ideas in mind, 5 years ago we began designing workshops to help us answer the question: what if we reconnect fundamental sciences, traditional crafts and emerging arts and technologies? No one person is likely to possess the knowledge needed to teach all of those in one (although we do know a handfull of these contemporary Leonardos…). So we wondered what if we bring together experts and enthusiasts from different fields, choose a topic they all care about, but look at from a different perspective? We can provide the space, the context and guide the process gently, but allow enough freedom for unexpected things to emerge. We began by combining mathematics with textile crafts and computer programming. Then we looked at electromagnetism, bee keeping and psychogeophysics. Now we chose biochemistry, fermentation and biohacking. All of you have either an interest or experience in one of the three domains. This means that none of you are experts in all three, so everyone is a novice and an expert at the same time. We hope that this will encourage you to learn from each other. Admiting that we all start from a position of “not knowing”, can make us more humble, but also more receptive to learning.

We hope to have designed the workshop with sufficient openness to allow your interests and experience to come to the fore. Please make use of this time to make the workshop your own. We prepared a few introductory sessions to get us started, but what we really want to see is your ideas emerging through the open sessions. For this to happen we ask you to stay as focused as you can, try to avoid contact with the “outside” world (email, phone calls…) and let us know if you have any problems or doubts. Remember that this is a unique time, with unique people that is not likely to repeat again in the same setting, so please make the most of it! We will be around to help you do this, but ultimately it is your own responsibility to shape the workshop as you like it: propose topics, co-host sessions, take a step back when you need to etc. You can do anything you like, while respecting the other participants' needs and wishes as well.

I'll take you through the flow and the context of the workshop tomorrow morning at 10. We will continue until 18, with a lunch break at 13h and dinner at 18:30. For people who arrive before 10 we will serve breakfast as well. Tonight we're here to get to know each other, make a few personal connections and try to understand what motivates each of us to dedicate a weekend to fermentation and biohacking. To do that, I'd like to start by asking each of you to propose a toast. When you feel ready, tap your glass, stand up and raise your glass to one thing that makes your hands itch, your stomach grumble, or your brain burn when you think about biochymickal arts. So please toast to one thing that fascinates you in fermentation and/or biohacking. Do it when you feel ready, but make sure you've done your toast before dessert.

-Maja Kuzmanovic

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  • (Maja) To transformation from life to death to life again!
  • (Rasa) To the little creepy bacteria that make things bad but also very tasty!
  • (Pieter) To Sero Tonin, exhchanging stories and creating new ones!
  • (Martynas) To versatility of microbes and to listening to fermenting batches of beer!
  • (Eva) To culture and collaboration between human and microbiological realms
  • (Riita) To learning, eating and the hard working Polish guys selling fabulous pickles!
  • (Philippe) To Funazushi, the Japanese fish and rice fermentation that tastes like roquefort! And to the happy microbiome!
  • (Nik) To curiosity and inconsistency!
  • (Cocky) To interesting sparks and the bacteria that make them happen!
  • (Natalia) To slowness and fermented time!
  • (Maria) To the pleasure of fermented flavours!
  • (Hugo) To creative misuse!
  • (Ariana) To the materiality of metaphor!
  • (Pascal) To IT!
  • (Brian) To gut thinking and quorum sensing!
  • (Guillian)To the symbiosis of new materials and processes!
  • making PDA to prepare plates
  • preparing plates, microwave pasteurisation (sub 120ºC sterilisation?)
  • reading list and library subsection
  • preparing cultures from 3×3 ferments (see below)

Maria prepared three samples:

  • A - salt-based fermentation (2%)
  • B - whey-based fermentation
  • C - salt-based + fish

A/B/C will come in different versions:

  1. 6-days fermentation
  2. 4-days fermentation
  3. 2-days fermentation
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This is based on delivery on Wednesday 11 September afternoon. If you need them on Monday 9th, I can deliver in the morning, it just means that sample 3 will have to be opened after 2 days (so on Wednesday).

There will be a total of 9 jars. For each, we said we would look at the vegetable tissue and liquid, so we are talking of about 18 or so slides.

I will add to this:

  • D - sample of 2 weeks old (so inedible) sample of the fish kimchi you tried.
  • E - sample from 2010 (unopened, we may find some mold on the top if we are lucky…).
  • F - sample of kimchi juice that is 9 months old.

note that sea salt should be used, rather than table salt (since table salt often contains E535 an acidity regulator which affects fermentation)

  • biochymickal_arts_20130913.txt
  • Last modified: 2013-09-23 12:01
  • by nik