Archive for the ‘Food Hacking’ Category

Kitchen Hacking in Hackerspace 2011

In Food Hacking on February 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

On February 13 we had our first kitchen hack meeting in Hackerspace and tested a 2D EGG PRINTER…


Defined by hacked kitchen gadgets various dieting “tribes” are already a reality: paleodiet believers can be identified with DIY sous vide appliances, locavores with foraging practices and interfaces monitoring food authenticity, molecular gastronomes with liquid nitrogen DIY protocols, nutrigenomics enthusiasts with interfaces for crowdsourcing biodata, and functional food minimalist with voluntary starvation because they refuse to feed the selfish DNA.

Denisa, Meng and Zhiquan were brainstorming over some blenders, food processors, toasters and one broken sous vide PID controller and came up with several ideas they will test in the next month:

1. Paleo Radar attached to Sous Vide PID controller that would monitor livestock in the vicinity (or human flesh for potential cannibals) and warn the urban hunters when they can catch something really fresh. We were also thinking of potential future DIY satellite missile system attached to this that can kill the cattle instantly it “smells” something close to our sous vide cooker. For now we may try to connect the PID with Kinetic, so it becomes like a carnivorous kitchen device with a special sense!

2. Buddhist Blenders and Emotional Food Processors that have an opinion on what they kill, either sending Twitter prayers online or refusing to blend onion or something smelly. We want to attach cameras and some Arduino hacks with diodes to make  this kitchen utensil more fun.

3. What we tested and it didn’t quite work out was an idea of a special kitchen home entertainment system: 2D EGG PRINTER connected to data-projector , basically we tried to make shapes in egg-white and then in yolk by warming it up with the dataprojector, like cooking with your data-projector. We had an idea of eating your pictures, tasting visualizations projected on an egg-white surface… Like a sous vide data-projector technique for eggs but also a way how to involve more of your gadgets in your food. Everything is a kitchen gadget!  We wanted to “print” in the egg white the IBM logo but then we tried our Hackerspace star. We used a DLP but it was not strong enough so next time we will experiment with something old fashioned that produces more heat or with laser video projector.  We would also try to create some food 3D printers.


Food Hacking 2011 Singapore

In Food Hacking on February 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

Inspired by the Sous Vide revolution in Singapore, a Secret Cooks Club was set up by several food enthusiasts with variety of interest starting with molecular gastronomy, social networking over food, food 2.0 services etc. The group is active on Facebook page that links to their website and they organize underground restaurants’ and food events around Singapore that experiment with various design ideas like dinner hopping, networking with strangers over food.  SCC supports community garden guerrilla  activities in Singapore, food foraging and various creative ideas around food. For April 2011 we plan the first dinner – dinner prepared for people with 23andme profiles that will be personalized based on their genome and it will serve as a type of nutrigenomics exercise/performance/experiment with  future food cultures.

Members have funny titles:

Florian – Chief Secret Chef
Denisa –  Secret Food Operations
Augustus – Division of Food Voyeurs,
Dan – Shadow – Minister for Grits and Biscuits
Chew Lin – Arbiter of chocolate & all things pleasurable to the palate


DIYbio in Singapore – preliminary notes

In DIYbio, Food Hacking on February 13, 2011 at 11:44 am

The first DIYbio event in Singapore which was organized in July 2010 also took place in the first and only Hackerspace in Asia. The Singaporean Hackerspace is based in the traditional Malay area of the city, Kampong Glam, which represents well the paradoxes involved in the local movement. Kampong Glam is known for its bohemian and very relaxed atmosphere even if its difficult to find a restaurant serving alcohol beverages because of the strict halal policy. It is however one of the most popular and authentic places with a unique ability to integrate and accommodate the most traditional and the most bohemian cultures. Western tourists, local expats and alcohol loving Singaporeans enjoy the authentic feeling of this place and simply develop a special strategy how to move around by having a dinner in one of the Turkish or Egyptian restaurants outside in the pleasant tropical night while enjoying the drinks later in the air-conditioned Blue Jazz café and club. The club is also used for the monthly Hackerspace events that introduce various interesting local businesses, research and creative projects, so called “blinkBL-NK” nights.

The paradoxes represented by Kampong Glam mixture of religion and hedonism, tradition and innovation, are mirrored well in the local Hackerspace and DIYbio scene. The Singaporean DIYbio that started as a gathering of artists, philosophers and scientists “doing strange things in their bathrooms and kitchens” rather quickly transformed into “Biotech Start-up Nights” in the next three months. While in the original meeting people acquired some knowledge on how to hack rice cookers and create sous-vide cooking devices, how to shoot fly porn with hacked webcams as microscopes and support one local evolutionary biologist in his research, later meetings became networking sessions for the local (missing) biotech startup scene.  Business and culture, government and community projects  in Singapore do not exclude each other but they do not really support each other either. The whole dynamics surrounding the local Hackerspace and DIYbio movement repeats the paradoxes that are so well represented by the Kampong Glam area.

For example, the most serious activity of the Singaporean DIYbio became a rather geeky campaign against the government health program promoting balanced diet but not for reasons which we would expect in such anti-government campaigns which usually protect the rights of the individuals to choose their own diet.  The local Hackerspace responded to the government “command” asking citizens to eat more veggies and grains with even more extreme technocratic and “scientific” advocacy for the so called “paleo diet” based on meat consumption and even molecular gastronomy techniques of “sous-vide cooking”. The main local proponent of the paleo diet and a sous-vide cooking guru, Meng Weng Wong, who is also one of the leading figures of the local Hackerspace, simply started a campaign against the “carbohydrates” conspiracy and other reliques of “agriculture”. He subscribes to the belief in the evolutionary connection between our genes and meat consumption which supposedly developed in the original hunter-gatherer society and which agriculture messed up with grains. For this reason, he is fighting the government camping by organizing large sous-vide meat dinners and parties and using his blog to promote this diet by giving detailed descriptions of his cooking experiments and techniques. The DIYbio in Singapore repeats and mirrors the paradoxes involved in Kampong Glam’s unique bland of traditional and bohemia culture in this unique combination of paleolithic ideology and modern sous-vide technology, of very old food genes and very modern cooking practices, and maybe defines certain Singaporean uniqueness.

The Singaporean DIYbio interest in molecular gastronomy and issues of food and health are also a response to a fashion trend and nutritional discussions which are possible only in a very wealthy society.  The most notable DIYbio initiative in the rest of Asia, especially in Indonesia and in the Philippines, have very different agenda but they also follow closely the EU model. The DIYbio experiments and events in EU are closely connected to the local squat and art centers and to the BioArt projects rather than to the Hackerspace ethos. These global DIYbio networks that are emerging in Asia for this reason offer two,  almost opposing versions of how to involve the public, the citizens in science and technology development. While the US model of Hackerspaces and DIYbio labs is based on the ethos of entrepreneurship and independence from the strong state, which strangely is possible even in the technocratic Singaporean context, the EU model is based on publically funded art projects and the tradition of squat cultures. While in the US model of DIYbio, the citizens are basically shareholders in science and technology projects that have a potential to provide benefits to the early adopters, in the EU model, the citizens are more stakeholders that can have wide range of reasons and interests (often critical) in the biosciences and the biotechnologies. While the Singaporean DIYbio follows the US model in terms of its interests and models of work (Hackerspaces), the rest of Asia is more involved in the critical appropriation of biotech protocols that are closely connected to the strategies typical of the EU art centers and squats.