It’s been two months since the lockdown and the most exciting part of the day, for me, has been my meals. Ever wondered how astronauts find ways to entertain themselves during their space flight? It takes about nine months for a one-way journey to Mars. With thousands of dollars spent on launching each milligram into space, (dehydrated) food has been the least of all priorities.
From Nicola Twilley’s article featured on Wired recently: ‘Civilization if going interplanetary. Our survival in the cosmos will depend on a diet that can nourish not only our bodies but our humanity too.’
Our stomach depends highly on gravity and it’s common that astronauts find difficulty in swallowing in space. No one has been away from the influence of gravity for more than one or two seconds.
I remember liquid cartons being served in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Mostly, sci-fi films represent space food as a slimy substance and sometimes spoiled milk, planetary organisms or even spice (as observed in Dune).
Bread is unfortunately not allowed because the crumbs will start floating around and create a mess. Good luck sneezing!
However, food researcher Maggie Coblentz has designed a space helmet to enhance food enjoyment. Her food menu is available on the MIT Media Lab website.
This also makes me wonder, maybe future travelers will grow special zero-g food in outer space and bring it back to Earth to be sold in museum shops. Of course, this will not be limited to food. It could range from delicate forms of silk to maybe a new style of dance choreography -- explained further by Nicola Twilley.
I guess it is high time we start curating a new style of food experience. How different would the kitchen look like?
Al Hussein Wanas creates an authentic bio printed food experience that makes nutritious, bone free food more accessible. At the same time, disposing off the bones or other food waste is a part of the process. The meal prototypes speculate on the alternative to bones and allow the participants to choose their substitute which they can then reuse. In this sense, it's a return to our primitive use of bones as tools.
In the woods near Zurich, a science-fictional performer explores a variety of ingredients – minerals, forest fruits, liquids and substances, creating on open kitchen lab of petri dishes, pipettes, diagrams of chemical compositions of carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, formaldehyde and hydronium ions.
The film begins with the history of atmospheric chemistry: high levels of oxygen in the air allowed the formation of flying and thinking beings, ie. human consciousness depends on 21% of oxygen. The performer’s body suit helps monitor the metabolic processes of her body. Her cosmos cooking aims at the transformation of matter into different states of being by extracting, distilling, filtering, cooking, jellying, reducing, decomposing, pulverizing, macerating.
Ursula Biemann – “Tinkering with the chemical composition of the atmosphere is not only impacting the climate on Earth, it directly affects the capacity to think which enabled the conception of technologies that changed planetary chemistry. Twenty-One Percent ranges between cosmos and kitchen, highlighting the minerals that come from deep space, forming the materialities and processes by which human and other organic bodies are kept alive.”
Quanticare is a project developed in partnership between Amy Congdon, the project facilitator and designers Ann-Kristin Abel and Jenny Lee, and the 2012 NRP-UEA iGEM team, with the aim of exploring the ethical implications of Synthetic Biology. The resulting film explores the potential future uses of the science the iGEM team have been working with, namely that of Nitric Oxide sensing. The team developed a method of quantitative computing using bacterial sensors. The film presents a future with highly sensitive disease monitoring and personalized healthcare provided by the proposed company ‘Quanticare.’
About the author
Reechal Mevada studied a graduate architecture program that mined science fiction to imagine California’s futures at the University of California - Berkeley. Her research ‘Prison for Artificial Intelligence’ was an instrumental speculation on the ethics of technology. Her work has been exhibited at the Starta Art Gallery in Flatiron district, NYC and published in the Studio One Manual. She recently won the People Choice’s award for designing a prison for cybercrime in the Hague, the Netherlands. She’s now based in NYC exploring and documenting fiction and technology in art, film and design through her platform www.fictionmapper.com