They say that you eat with your eyes first. Humans are creatures requiring stimulus, and with structured perceptions of what food is. Typically, if we don’t like how food looks, we won’t eat it. ECAL student Erika Marthins is tackling food from a technological perspective, combining movement, noise and light with food to challenge our perceptions on how we interpret what we eat.
Marthins’ project – called Déguster l’augmenté – has three tasty treats on the menu – a lollipop that refracts light, a chocolate record that plays audio and a gelatin dessert capable of movement.
The clear, light-refracting lollipop displays a hidden message when light is shone through: ‘lumière sucrée’ – sweet light. To display the message, Marthins enlisted the help of Rayform, a tech firm that specialises in light redirection technology. Computer algorithms calculate the amount of surface needing to be altered, and the structure of the lollipop is then specially crafted with the algorithm’s calculations in mind. When light hits the lollipop’s surface, it is then redirected to leave the message on a surface behind. Think of it a bit like a lollipop version of the Bat-Signal.
The second dessert, a chocolate record, brings new meaning to the term ‘sweet sounds’. It works much like a regular vinyl record – grooves are etched onto the chocolate disc’s surface, essentially 3D soundwave representations. A needle passes through the grooves, reads the sound, sends it through a cartridge containing coils and magnets where it is then amplified through a speaker. The cool thing about a chocolate record is that, if you grow bored with the music or don’t like the album, you can always just eat it.
Last on the menu is the Dessert à l’Air, a gelatin dessert that moves thanks to actuators and robot technology. Jelly cubes are encased in a purple, circular gelatin mould, which curls and stretches out in a grub-like fashion. It’s reminiscent of how leaves move in the direction of light in a timelapse sequence. Dessert à l’Air is a bit like something you’d see on an alien planet, or if Willy Wonka and Ridley Scott’s Alien had a baby.