Absolutely Famished

Absolutely Famished is a program of exhibitions and events held in 2016, that invited artists, scientists and food experts to imagine what we might find in a 22nd century marketplace.

Ab-Fam-main-image
Image credit: Anna Madeleine, Seeds, 2016, stop-motion animations on custom display modules, beakers, dimensions variable.

In 2016, the Absolutely Famished program pushed the limits of edibility, considered issues such as food sustainability and security in a world with a changed climate and increased population, and explored the role of technology and culture in future food trends.

Robot farmers, lab synthesized and 3D printed food, post-apocalyptic dining, and the future of agri-culture… were all on the table.

Held from July to December 2016 and curated by Dr Renee Beale, the program featured a great line up of over 50 artists, performers, scientists and food experts across more than 15 exclusive events:

21 July-26 August: Inheritance by Anna Madeleine exhibition

12 August: Workshop – What could a fair food university look like?

20-21 August: Absolutely Famished Bake Off and cake exhibition at the Queen Victoria Market

6 September-4 October: Food, Desire and Technology by Pierre Proske exhibition

27 September: ThoughtLAB-14 event – My Veggie Garden Rules

13 October-4 November: Autumn Moon over Potato Blossom Mountain exhibition by The Hotham Street Ladies

9 November-9 December: Coloursense by David Sequeira exhibition

17 November: Foodnotes & Coloursense performance as part of Melbourne Music Week 2016

Introducing the 22nd century marketplace
The 100 storey marketplace casts its shadow over everything in the city. The lifeline of the community, it provides the only supply of food for many thousands of kilometres. It has been so since the climate wars of 2050. With a quarter of the earth’s land mass underwater or under threat of being under water, mass migration of an ever-growing human population has seen every available speck of land built on.

Incredible aromas, some familiar and some new, permeate from the 10 storeys of retail that sell the wares produced in the floors above. But this enticing mix of aromas is not emanating from the food itself, merely from aromaprints emitted by the millions of advertising machines tempting the hungry citizens. This place is hell for those deemed obese and on mandated food rationing.

Robot assistants bleat sale items and daily special offers, programmed to particular auditory pitches in an attempt to be discernable to the inferior human ear over the cacophony.

Catalogues stretch endlessly into space, projecting vividly coloured virtual 3D representations of available food items for customers to peruse. The newer model catalogues allow the interaction of all senses – including sound and touch. Less real food is damaged and wasted that way, although any food that does get discarded is composted back into the growing systems above.

Once an order is placed, the upper floors spring to life. 3D printers take care of most of the popular junk food. Livestock farming proved too energy intensive and difficult in increasingly confined spaces sometime back in the late 21st century, so now flesh is grown for consumption by petri-dish. Fruit and vegetables remain a problem, with only certain genetically modified species able to grow indoors with relatively unsophisticated insect biodiversity. Robot insect drone technology is improving, although recent advancements in laboratory synthesised mock vegetables and fruit, with all of the flavour and nutrients of the grown variety, have led many to speculate that they are the most promising solution.

Welcome to the 22nd century marketplace. I wonder what’s cooking today?

– Written by Renee Beale for the launch of Absolutely Famished

The launch of Absolutely Famished on April 19 included future food predictions from the below food experts:

Dr Rachel Carey, local and sustainable food researcher, The University of Melbourne

Dr Simon Cropper, neuropsychologist, The University of Melbourne

Dr Sigfredo Fuentes, wine scientist, The University of Melbourne

Sophie Lamond, food nerd, writer, and Melbourne co-founder of the Fair Food Challenge

Ben McMenamin, chef, gardener, fair food advocate, founder of the Greening RMIT project

Dr Anneline Padayachee, food scientist, nutritionist, and food blogger, The University of Melbourne

Dr Gyorgy Scrinis, food politics and policy researcher, The University of Melbourne

Dr Chris Williams, urban horticulturalist, The University of Melbourne

Will Gordon, Horticulture Innovation Australia

Watch a Facebook Live video from this event.

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