Open Systems Association

Everything But the Kitchen

// Fri Jun 21 2013

Everything but the Kitchen is a cultural lab articulated as a radical kitchen space. Seven units house critical experiments where members of the public can plug into bodies and their processes, approaching critical thinking and technological tinkering from the perspective of physical engagement. How does our understanding of feedback systems shift once our nipples are connected through suction to another body? How does time materialise in a physical database of chopped, organised and washed vegetables? How can we re-politicise domestic media by grinding corn kernels?

Cultural and technological practices of skin bleaching, lactation, chopping, sandblasting, algorithmic knowledge production and eating are deployed as entry points of physical learning. Everything but the Kitchen investigates how post-digital time articulated in the relationships between material processes, how this is felt in different bodies and how this physical knowledge speaks. Engineered, commodified and consumed, kitchen time becomes labour time sold as leisure, but we can make it something different. Could we carry with it the wetness, warmth and sheer burning alkalinity of the substances, practices and forces we find within its walls and streaming through its windows.

Here it becomes possible to explore unseen energies, unrecognised practices and unpaid forms of physical, emotional and material labour which fall outside normative notions of time. As a site of technical, physical and cultural experimentation, experiences of time and labour in relation to each investigation are charted together with visitors and practitioners. This serves as a map of the knowledge created and uncovered during many hours of embodied speculation, as members of OSA prod and poke at the powers underlying post-digital drudgery, sociable seasons and cruel technologies.

(photos by Anna Kartasi)

Kitchen Components

Everything but the Kitchen consists of seven units, seven sites of material enquiry and embodied speculation whereby invisible processes are made tangible and new forms of engagement are offered.

Chew On This

Renee Carmichael

The following text is presented, handwritten, on seventy pieces of edible paper: I hereby sacrifice my words, inscribed by hand, to the belly of the beast. They will be digested, broken, divided, consumed. They will be a prisoner in the harmony of the stomach incorporating the (offal) outside with the inside. Their time is calculated, 20 chews, and I will be part of the system. But the body, just like a text, needs constant reading, and my words are inscribed on the guts of it all. And gutsy, dear mouths, you are. This is on you - on your digestive track, on your own time, on the liminal creation of energy that you now expend in perpetuating the system. But call this a kitchen- sink drama or not - go ahead, you masticating mouths, and nom, nom, plop, chew on this.

Suction Mechanisms

Gareth Foote and Alexandra Jönsson

Breast milk and the placenta are phenomena of female human embodiment that challenge the philosophical notion of separate, sovereign subjects independent of other human beings and an objective world “out there.” Eva-Marie Simms, 2009. ‘Eating One’s Mother: Female Embodiment in a Toxic World’, Environmental Ethics, vol. 31.

Suction Mechanisms is a series of performative experiments unfolding over the duration of 11 hours exploring how milk pumping labour and suction mechanisms tie emotional and material bodies together by manipulation of air flow. How can new relationships emerge through the touch and pressure of a nipple tied to the flow and containment of liquid in the process of the manual labour of pumping?

Time Scales

Cliff Hammett

Ever timed the cooking of eggs by how much bread you could butter? Or counted the gurgles of a fridge to tell you when the tea was brewed? Time Scales is a small set of experiments exploring time as a relationship between physical processes, to produce a set of temporal ratios for kitchen practices and procedures without reference to normative metrical time. These ratios are then manifested in the properties of foodstuffs and utensils – temporality mapped out in comparisons of weight, colour, volume, smell - creating a sensorial database of time relations. These experiments will inform an ongoing investigation into errant temporalities.

Bleaching Identities

Manali Jagtap-Nyheim

Bleaching Identities is an ongoing investigation into the culture of skin-whitening in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Five Times Doubled uses the “Fair and Lovely” advertising technique to show the results of bleaching over time. The title of the piece refers to the price tag; the more you are whitened, the more expensive you become. As part of the Everything but the Kitchen exhibition, the artist also experiments with the basics of skin- whitening products (bleach). This quasi-performance piece, titled It’s Fair and Lovely, involves ‘washing’ photographs in a kitchen sink with bleach, then drying them.

Autonomous Radio Search Engine

Tom Keene

A speech recognition algorithm chews through radio waves searching for conversations about food. This project is an ongoing investigation into how the Viterbi algorithm constructs and coerces new sets of social relation. Conceived in 1966 the Viterbi was originally used for digital signal processing where it detects and corrects errors in digital codes. Its use has subsequently extended through the technologies of speech recognition, DNA analysis, video encryption, deep space, and wireless communications systems.

Kitchenblast System

Anila Ladwa

The Kitchenblast System is not a competitor to the first commercial dishwasher, invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1839. Instead it offers itself as an additional kitchen appliance to scour surfaces like the bottom of saucepans. Fashioned from a sandblast cabinet and compressor, the assemblage uses pressure and ‘media’ (the industry term for abrasive) of ground corn to wear away the unwanted surface. The appliance is inspired by economical but questionable ways of waterless cleaning from my upbringing in Zimbabwe during years of drought, e.g. rubbing dishes clean in sand and ash, before wiping with a cloth. Deterioration of Zimbabwe’s infrastructures (limited supply of electricity and water) means that servitude and DIY practices remain the most economical way to clean one’s dishes.

The Ghost in the Kitchen - An Ensemble of Objects

Olga P Massanet

Our most intimate spaces - our kitchens, our bedrooms, our bodily cavities – are invisibly permeated by the ripple effects of violent solar explosions. At Harts Lane Studios, an ensemble of objects coalesce into a semi-stable entity that grants us access to these hidden dimensions of our reality. Unhindered by the walls, a radio wave from France silently enters the exhibition space in search of a submarine that is nowhere to be found. Ingrained in its signature are the invisible fingerprints of solar radiation. As it moves through the space, its ghostly presence goes unnoticed by all but one of us. A hundred meters of wire vibrate in tune with the visitor, turning its hidden energy into an electrical current, giving it away. After completing nineteen turns around a wooden structure, the flow is fed to a machine. There, one thousand lines of code seamlessly sift through the body of the ghost in search for traces of solar activity. A bright line covers one thousand three hundred pixels through seventeen hours of daylight transforming those traces into subtle changes in height. As you, the witness, annotate the wall with the trails of this motion, you become part of the ensemble. You are being moved by the ghost.

Where Does the Time Go? (Down the Plughole)

Various Artists

From national time use surveys to work timesheets, from anecdotes to alibis, frequent demands are made on individuals to account for their time. Such temporal accounting - made comprehensible by the notion that time equals money - often make invisible the complexities of contemporary lives and the costs to individuals and communities. For Everything but the Kitchen, members of OSA have critically and creatively monitored their time using spiral graph timesheets. These graphs, presented alongside other materials related to the event’s preparations, are not representations of the ‘true’ time spent, but are intended as a tool to help us think about forms of time and types of activity that ‘drop out’ or are otherwise unacknowledged.