Bananaworks explores the future of food and the evolution of human taste from the perspective of microbial design.
Today, what we consume is not only shaped by biological evolution but also by complex social and economic decisions imposed by humans. Since the earliest days, we grow what we like; what evolves through nature is highly implicated by our anthropocentric “taste.” Today, Cavendish, the most popular banana in the international market, for instance, is mostly a human artifact; it is an outcome of a long history of selective breeding practices that standardized its form, texture, and taste. As a living artifact, on the other hand, Cavendish is a monoculture—it cannot grow by itself and rather needs to get cloned across different plantations around the world. As it cannot sexually reproduce, it also cannot diversify its own biology and“taste.”
A series of Bananaworks features biochemically novel concoctions that are made of probiotics, microbe-sourced proteins, and wild banana water. They function as hybrid semi-living encapsulations that can diversify their taste on their own and create infinitely new possibilities that cannot be created by nature-born (wild) bananas or microorganisms alone.
The microbial designs inside the encapsulations were designed using the Microbial Design Studio. The platform was used to genetically transform bacteria so that they can synthesize different flavors. The organisms were automatically cultured inside the platform and then incorporated into different concoctions.
Bananaworks research grew out a residency that is enabled through the European Commission EC FP7 project SYNENERGENE (Responsible Research and Innovation in Synthetic Biology), which is executed by the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark) and Biofaction (Vienna, Austria).
Special thanks to Steen Rasmussen, Jens Hauser, and Markus Schmidt for their guidance and support.
February 6 - May 7, 2016 - Wetware: Art, Agency, Animation at Beall Center for Art and Technology, Irvine, CA.