Alluquere Roseanne Stone, in her essay, "Will the Real Body Stand Up?
notes that "much of the work of cyberspace researchers... assumes that the
human body is "meat," obsolete, as soon as consciousness itself can be
uploaded in to network. The discourse of the visionary virtual world
builders is rife with images of imaginal bodies, freed from the constraints
that flesh imposes. Cyberspace developers foresee a time when they will be
able to forget about the body.
In our proposed performance, food, cooking and eating stand for the
re-inscription of the tangible body into digital networks of information
flow, in a way that highlights some less-remarked aspects of various
feedback loops, and points to some real consequences, both for individual
bodies and for populations.
In The Origin of Table Manners, Claude Levi Strauss writes, "Adapting itself
to the exigencies of the body, and determined in its modes by the way man's
insertion in nature operates in different parts of the world, placed then
between nature and culture, cooking represents their necessary articulation.
It partakes of both domains, and projects this duality on each of its
manifestations. Our performance inserts cooking into the information
economy so that it appears to straddle, the supposed nature/culture divide
while actually undoing that dichotomy, which we know to be false. When
commenting on Brillat-Savarin's, Physiology of Taste, Roland Barthes
suggests that the cosmogeny of the culinary is one that reflects "the great
myth, operative today, more than ever, among a technological humanity: the
excellence of the tool (as opposed to the machine), the preeminence of the
artisanal over the industrial, in a word the nostalgia for the Natural.
The Chef, (unlike "the cook , who, in some formulations, might present as
the earthy, nurturing provider of sustenance), is, in this performance,
exemplar of expertise, and the power of those few who are truly "in the
know in an information economy. The Chef is the primary useful information
source for the Volunteer, who must attempt to learn to make a crepe by
following the Chef, who is present (on the other side of the partition), but
visible only via live video feed on the computer screen. The Chef has no
regard for the newbie’ volunteer's needs and instead focuses on the rapid
production of crepes, in a manner consistent with the primary value of the
information age: speed.
The Theorist provides a constant flow of commentary, analysis, historical
notes, theoretical interventions and literary quotes designed to
simultaneously enrich the proceedings, distract the participants and
complicate the information flow. While the two cameras trained on the Chef
and the Volunteer will project their activities continuously, the projection
from the Theorist's camera will be interspersed with other textual and
The audience will be subjected to the sights and smells of food cooking
throughout the performance. But when it is time to serve crepes, only those
who hold the few plates that were passed at random will be allowed to line
up eat—a reminder that the information economy is not particularly about
The Crepe, the Theorist, the Chef and the Volunteer
This is a staged audience-participation performance involving the rendering
of instructions (a recipe and how to execute it) as code, through digital
transmission devices. Individual audience volunteers must attempt to cook a
crepe by following a simultaneous video transmission of a live chef
performing those same steps on the other side of a partition. The chef will
be invisible to the audience member (and vice versa) and all information
will come to each of them through live video feed that he or she will watch
on a computer screen. This transmission will be continuously interrupted and
assisted by a third "information source who will provide a discourse on and
theorization of the process as well as impromptu diversions and sudden
requests. The rest of the audience will view and listen to the chef, the
theorist, and the volunteer on three screens, simultaneously. The chef will
be working on three burners at a time, "mass producing crepes. As soon as
the volunteer has finished one crepe, the theorist will do a critical
reading of it. If it is deemed worthy for consumption, then the chef's
production, up to this point, will then be distributed to the audience.
During the process of cooking the audience is also continuously passing
among themselves 10 plates that were handed out at random, in advance.
Whichever 10 people are holding plates when the volunteer has finished his
or her crepe will line up to eat. The whole process will repeat as time