Césaré - national center for musical creation
Here, culinary creation and sound design are inextricably linked: it is music that mixes, coats and sprinkles the food preparations and causes the plate to be served. Through palpable and impalpable, imagined and real, true and false perceptions, Sensitivexplosion plays with all our senses.
Team Credits: Delphine Huguet - Food Designer; Vivien Trelcat - Composer and Sound Designer; Pascaline Aumond - Video Performer
A powerful combination between food and music, a seducing hybrid action.
Sensitivexplosion is a transdisciplinary show that combines sound, video and gastronomy to create a comprehensive sensory experience . The performance is divided into three acts during which dishes are prepared in sound bowls. After every act, spectators are invited to taste the dishes that are prepared and served on stage by a squadron of sound trays. Here, culinary creation and sound design are inextricably linked: it is music that mixes, coats and sprinkles the food preparations and causes the plate to be served. Through palpable and impalpable, imagined and real, true and false perceptions, Sensitivexplosion plays with all our senses.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Food design and sound design share the same fundamental goal : question common perceptions and uses and mix senses in order to offer new experiences of reality. Having as its main object inert matter, food design is usually static. Although, "performance" or “live” are often use to describe food design experience, it is usually the chef who is in action and not the food persay. Here it is the food that comes to life as it comes into physical contact with sounds. Césaré (Centre National de Création Musicale, based in Reims, city of food design) wanted to explore the possibilites created by this unique encounter between the world of sound and gastronomy. Challenge was then to give to the ingredients a real, autonomous life. And thus erase some of the actions of the chef. But how could an almost magical experience be created only with the food we usually eat and live in a given way? In Sensitivexplosion, through loudspeakers turned into sound bowls, music becomes a utensil: the ingredients take form, are shaped and integrated to the dish live and finally materialize the meal's storyline. Putting on a "show" is not commonplace in the design world ; it will be part of the challenge inherent to the project. Halfway between performance, classic dinner party and concert, Sensitivexplosion is a truly original experience, a new way of approaching, preparing and eating food.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
A friend once told me : " Food design is an art for the satied people." This is what our project is about : creating a cultural experience, based on the logistical technique of a caterer. we served 150 people at the premiere. My designer reflex was to make sure every action had a purpose, that nothing was done for no reason. Each ingredient had to serve the recipe and we had to tell a story in which the spectators could be immersed. The recipes served on stage had to be the same as those provided to the spectators and the appeal of the 5 senses had to be continuous. Spectators attend the preparation of the meal : use is made of their hearing with the sound; the video projections and the stage-performance stimulates their sight; their smell as well as their taste are excited as powders are set in motion in a way that creates a fragrant and tasty cloud that gives them a glimpse of what they will eat. Our intention to get the tasters to a place was central to the innovative aspect of this “meal”. Aesthetically, we wanted to be halfway between the traditional cooking and the scene. Functionally, once again, there are common utensils found in every kitchen but the experiment’s key preparation tool is unusual: a sound bowl that, being connected to instruments and a camera, sets the ingredients in motion and creates moving almost hypnotic images.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The project required two years of research. The first steps have been made with the speaker and the action of sound waves in it: we broke about 6 speakers during the various tests. We tested different materials (PPA, plexiglass, metal...) for the bowl as well as various forms and hooks (high-tech adhesives, velcro ...). After a year, we had designed a bowl that was waterproof and could be deformed without breaking, and remained fixed to the speaker. In addition to the scenography and the development of tools, Delphine Huguet worked on the recipe and the following ingredients: - Non-Newtonian fluids that look almost as fluid as liquid water, but become solid when they are stimulated. - Fluids and semi-fluids (gelatinous bases) - For freeze-dried ingredients. - Ingredients blown. - Gaseous ingredients. Ingredient selection was made based on their ability to change shape when stimulated as well as their great taste. These criteria were important as the experiment wouldn’t have been innovative if the food didn’t taste good. Vivien Trelcat developed computer programs dedicated to boxes to control and predict the powders’ behavior during their stimulation. The research focused on the vibratory movements created by the sounds generated through analysis of frequencies and amplitudes and the physical reactions of the speakers as well as their limitations. Listing states, types of movement, both correlated with certain types of sounds and certain types of ingredients, empirical research allowed us to create a catalog of mobilized frequencies and thus allowed us to write a partition mixing live control and written sequences. Pascaline Aumond added two points of view usually inaccessible to spectators : - The show revealed from a straight-down perspective in real time, the choreography of gestures, the ingredients. - The heart of the show captured from macroscopic perspectives, recorded and broadcast in perfect timing, creating an illusion of real-time action. Thanks to three other live cameras, the viewer has access to a variety of surprising and unusual points of view. S/he no longer sees from one standpoint but plays with back and forth visuals motions. Each spectator creates its own experience depending on the viewpoints they choose to follow. Once all these parameters were under control, it was necessary to develop a scenography that could be easily mounted and dismounted in five hours. We also took into account the fact that we had to provide food and service to an audience ranging from 50 to 200 people. We have developed a series of sound trays that each generate a soundtrack. They give viewers auditory information on where they can find food to eat but also spatialize the sound, each tray broadcasting a different composition. In parallel to this, a much more contemplative macro video of the dishes tasted is projected during this phase, giving an emotional break to the spectators engaged in this emotional race.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Sensitivexplosion is a unique cultural experience thanks to the unique interaction between music, video, meal preparation, tasting and emotional investment from the viewer it creates. The viewer witnesses the preparation of a multi-sensorial meal. S/he looks at, listens to and tastes both the sounds and what is visually presented to them. Intrigued, s/he gets carried away in the odd scenario that s/he’s offered. The video makes light of the public’s perceptions, it hypnotizes them and reveals to them what it desires them to feel or understand ... Between the recipe perfomances, the trays' sounds arise and invade the space, moving, giving to taste, physically, the preparation the spectators had imagined. The video, thanks to macroscopic views, takes them to a different perception of what they are eating. Music is an invisible and impalpable fourth participant to this ballet of tastes. This is a whirlwind of emotions, of a true upheaval of perceptions where emotions become means of communication. During our performances, children and parents are carried away by their own emotions and mutual astonishment. Thus, the performance is not just something one "sees" but a real vector of social ties. The public await the food, the sound and the video from a novel perspective, without any need for a cultural background, and then discuss what they’ve just experienced. Sensitivexplosion was presented at various artistic events (music festivals, Nuit Blanche -a 12-hour long outside contemporary art event).6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
Sensitivexplosion does not use specific cultural codes. Music, as well as the sensations provoked by the sound waves constitute a universal emotional language. Image and video are languages that do not require words and can be understood by all. And as for the food, we use ingredients from all 5 continents. We argue that, being fundamentally transdisciplinary, this project has a multi-cultural significance and is thus understandable by all.span class="question">7. Does your project have nutritional elements? If so, are these elements available and affordable on a global or local level?
Sensitivexplosion uses industrial ingredients for their mechanical and gustatory characteristics: lightness and strength of taste (freeze-dried corn and peas, strawberry, fig and yuze powders...). Usually hidden by the industry, these ingredients are here placed on the front of the stage, they are the show’s masters of choreography and queens of taste. These items are easily purchased and affordable thanks to the internet. We also uses more common ingredients that we try to purchase, as much possible, locally given that it is for us a guarantee of quality and freshness.