open sauces reader p4

Sneha Solanki

Reclaiming the nostalgia of kitchen science takes reference from historical and cultural processes of home experimentation and hobbyism which utilise scientific methods. This nostalgia is explored through one area of my research project ‘Home Economics: test tube food’.

‘Home Economics: test tube food’ uses the scientific techniques of in-vitro and micropropogation of plant tissue culturing to clone and grow your own edible plant material in semi-aseptic conditions using readily available ingredients. The work creates its own mini-cycle by transferring historical, domestic and scientific culturing methods of cloning plant cells, cultures and calluses into a cyclical production of cloning, growing, planting and consuming whilst simultaneously transforming the kitchen into a lab and a continued place of food production.

Plant tissue culturing is a relatively old method of producing cloned plants and was first attempted in 1902 by the Austrian botanist Haberlandt. Haberlandt described the process with theoretical ‘totipotentiality’, stating that tissue cultures have the ability to develop into complete plants. Plant tissue culturing was popularised and domesticated by avid gardeners in the 1970’s which contuined as a trend throughout the1980’s. In the current times plant tissue culturing has become part of the wider discourse on the proprietory and debatable nature of the deterministic practice of biotechnolgy. ‘Home Economics: test tube food’ uses the active home science methods to comment upon and work in parallel to these limitations of the ever increasing closed and commodified systems imposed on food production globally whilst also furthering the potential of re-skilling the cook as a gardener, biologist and scientist.

Sneha Solanki works as an artist, educator and producer. Sneha communicates her practice through art which interrogates technology & science and often works in process-based collaborative environments; producing events and projects which utilise low-tech, distributive and open methods. Sneha likes to cook especially under limited circumstances and uses food for social and artistic outcomes. Presently Sneha is researching into the notion of ‘kitchen science’ for edible outcomes through wet lab and cloning methods. Sneha currently teaches in Fine Art at Newcastle University and co-manages the Polytechnic media lab in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

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