Thursday, July 23, 2009

RPS photos

Photos of Starvation Seeds at RPS.

Video coming someday! next month?

Closing Reception @ RPS tomorrow

If you are in the mood for a much smaller, more relaxed closing event, please come to our closing reception tomorrow evening, 7-9 pm, RPS (address below). Some of us will most likely be there before 7. First Friday had lots of pluses, including FIRE and lots of galleries open to look at. This event will also have pluses, like the debut of Rupa's newest sound sculpture, and lots more to nosh. & drink! Also, I'll be doing a tasting, so prepare yourself for liquid tamales and mud cookies.

I just spent some time yesterday shooting video and stills of the show. Video will take me a while to post but stills should be up today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

art business has pictures of our show!

Check out the whole article here, and here is a picture of folks looking at my part of the show (on the wall behind the people is Nick Lally's photo series & date visualization mural).

photo: Alan Bamberger

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The cookbook is for sale! At RPS, it costs $15. That is the only place I am selling it until the show is over, and then I might sell more via etsy. I printed a bunch, so I want to sell those before using Lulu's print on demand option.

mice heart soil; RPS closing reception

today on boing boing, Mark Frauenfelder links to a CDC paper on geophagy I have found useful in my research, as well as a new paper connecting the incorporation of soil with happiness, at least in lab mice.

Interesting interspecies possibilities here!

In other news, First Friday at RPS was fantastic, hundreds of people, but we hope folks we actually know will be able to come back on Friday the 24th (next Friday?!?) for our closing reception. In the works are: a tasting of Starvation Seeds recipes, singing and dancing, and the debut of Rupa's sound installation. Please come! The event has a facebook page if that helps in any way.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

recipe box! at last!

I finally got a recipe box and I adore it. I can't believe it took me so long to figure out that I could just buy one of those plastic index card containers from Staples. I kept looking at cooking stores/cooking sections and coming up blank, but now I have this great box, with some helpful labels, and, YAY!

Pictures once the RPS show is completely installed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

RPS show

I've been installing at RPS yesterday and today. It's going pretty well!

We have a press release for the show with more details.

Cookbook will be for sale, starting next week.

Opening reception: Oakland's First Friday is July 3, starting at 6 pm.

Closing reception: July 24, 7 pm. The closing reception will feature a Starvation Seeds tasting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

today's workshop: liquid food

workshop went well, i would even say, best one yet! this is thanks to the space finally looking and feeling inhabited and productive (taking it down tomorrow, of course!) and also due to higher than normal foot traffic. Nobody came to the workshop on purpose, but more people came today than came to the previous two combined. Tripod & video were working beautifully, and it was overcast, so the video isn't as blown out and overexposed looking.

People sampled the tamales and the veggies, and i got the exact response i'd been hoping to elicit: "It's so weird to drink a tamale!" I also heard a lot of people productively imagining what it might be like to experience enteral feeding. I was surprised so many people even tried the food--I thought surely someone would require something sweet, but people were pretty happy with the savory stuff.

I'm leaving the installation feeling really happy with how everything turned out!

Next step, making a short video documenting the three workshops and the installation in general.


At last, my cookbook is in press at Lulu! I've ordered 30 of them. Ambitious? I don't know yet. I'll be selling them at Rock Paper Scissors during that show (until July 29) and then on the website after that. I'm not sure what RPS's markup will be, but they are a worthy organization so I encourage you to buy it from them. The cookbook will be in inventory next week or as soon as I get it, and for sale shortly after our show opens.

It's small but sweet: 40 tiny pages with recipes and stories excerpted from my thesis paper. It's a nice way to get some of the thesis paper out in the world, and a little more substantial than the recipe cards in the current installation.

Speaking of which, after like 5 more shopping attempts (I'm not kidding!) I have not found a recipe box that is neither horribly ugly nor outrageously expensive. The expensive part wouldn't bother me as much if all that money didn't always end up buying some sort of awful martha stewart color scheme, etc etc. !!

liquid food

Today's event involves either tasting or making liquid food. At last, I am moving my stores of liquid, bagged food out of my freezer! I'm hoping that because today is the last day of the show, there is more foot traffic than usual through the museum. I've noticed that people tend to use the sculpture garden as a chill out space with their kids--last time I was there people were breast feeding, letting their kids run around, etc., which can work well for these performance afternoons.

& I'll have my tripod today! which will maybe help the exposure problems I've been having so far. I wish I had a clever way of putting up a tarp for shade, but I tried it last time and was met with epic failure. I hesitate to use sculptures as anchor points!

btw, last workshop was not over when I posted that--several more people came out, & I think I got some decent video of one of them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

today's workshop

I guess I am actually liveblogging my workshop!

Here I am squinting at my computer on the roof of the sculpture garden:

On the roof today, Kathleen and Nada brought friends to sample bentonite clay in its wet, drinkable form, and in its yummy, oatmeal cookie form. I also brought the small cache of dirt from Chimayo and explained tierra bendita. Nada and Kathleen both sampled a finger's worth.

The bad news is, my camera works brilliantly indoors but horrible outdoors--my video footage is very washed out.

The good news is, lots of pictures!

After Nada and Kathleen left, I talked with a few visitors to the museum, a mother and daughter pair, and Lynn, the woman who waters and gardens up here.

30 minutes left, but I have a feeling I'm done for the day.

I'm sitting where the mud cookies used to be, then I'll move the dirt tasting stuff into the greenhouse before I leave.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

workshop tomorrow: eating dirt

Tomorrow, June 19, I'll have a bunch of clay-based food and drink available to taste and experience. Sorry about my earlier, mistaken post--I had my schedule mixed up! Liquid food is next week, stay tuned. I'll be outside in the sculpture garden from 1-3.

Since I last posted, I officially received my Ph.D and less officially received my MFA. Here I am, the lone person standing in the Ph.D seating area to receive my MFA:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 5 opening

I uploaded a bunch of pictures of the opening here. Some of them, especially the ones later on in the evening, are really great, if I do say so myself--I'm going to try and go back to shoot some video at night. Too many people last night (which was great! but not great for video).

Ivan took some pictures of me handing out my food samples. I will post those when I have them. I completely forgot to have myself photographed with my camera...

Friday, June 5, 2009

first workshop

Held the first of the three MAH workshops today.

A fairly large audience attended the tour, and I thought my presentation went well. There were probably 30 people there.

A smaller group stayed and we made and sampled pplumpiñon, which is still in the cuisinart in the greenhouse. I'll just leave it there, I suppose, take it away later tonight during the opening.

I'm afraid my video will be crap, but I did shoot the workshop. I can't figure out how to make the camera meter for light other than where it is situated, so with the camera in the shade and me in the sun, it's pretty washed out.

We shall see.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I have made some changes in the installation.

I added two low shelves, which now contain piñon seedlings and blending tools.

I also added a landscape to the back wall, which I think adds a lot to the installation, although I meant for the edges to register with the landscape already in place and for some reason I was WAY off on that.

I've also updated the website with my recently-confirmed schedule of events. There is now an exhibition page, and links to the videos (cookies, liquid food, plumpiñon).

I want to add a recipe box, but I cannot for the life of me find one in the appropriate size (4 x 6--you'd think that would be common!). I've checked three stores. Will try BB&B tomorrow as a last resort...

eta: tried domus and sur la table. no dice...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

working in the space: blogging documentation

I'm going to start posting documentation of my work in the installation here, as well as pictures and video.

My first encounters with people visiting the show happened last Friday, right after Nada's performance concluded. It was sort of a surprise, because I thought Nada would be performing until 4, and I would be mostly alone upstairs tweaking the installation. But she was done early, and a bunch of people walked through the third floor and the sculpture garden. I spoke with two women, one more extensively than the other, about the liquid food part of the project. everyone knows someone who has had to negotiate a feeding tube, it seems. i would have photographed both women, but the encounter was unexpected. anyway, we talked about food, plants, the plants stuck on the feeding bags, whether or not the stuff in the bags was feeding the plants (which made me think, it would be cool if it were), and how to make your own tube food. I told her about the workshop on Friday, which I'm thinking will be longer than the one hour walk through. Maybe 2-3 hours.

The MAH has a kitchen downstairs with ovens. I might ask them about using the ovens during the opening--warm cookies are the best kind--

ghetto biennale

Amy told me about the first Ghetto Biennale in Port au Prince. I'm contemplating what a proposal for this work might look like in that context. & funding of course, which I emphatically do not have right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

thoughts on installation...

as i'm looking at the pictures for my installation, the only thing that seems horribly wrong is that ugly shelf. i think i'll ditch the shelf in favor of hanging bags of plumpiñon, stacked large bags of the same on the floor, and maybe stack a few concrete blocks to give the piñon seeds something to rest on.

Or not.

three days into the installation

This is what it looks like right now.

Electrical stuff is in place, monitors are not. I'm afraid they are going to melt! I at least want to show my committee and maybe they'll last until June 5, then, if they melt, c'est la vie. Hopefully temperatures won't get that high, but they got pretty HOT yesterday.

Dirt floor isn't done yet. I'm putting mulch down first because it's cheaper and fluffier. Will wait on monitors, dirt, and actual stuff (plumpinon bags, liquid food bags, cookies, etc) until after i get back from sweden.

Friday, May 8, 2009

logo development

I'm going to try printing this on my sticky back paper, see what happens. I'm not sure it will be sticky enough to resist the oily nut butter, but, I'm giving it a shot. And will be able to at least put labels on boxes...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

also, Rock Paper Scissors in July

I will be in a show at Rock Paper Scissors in Oakland during the month of July. It's a group show with the lovely Miki Foster, Rupa Dhillon, Nick Lally, and Elizabeth Travelslight. It's called Invisible Ingredient. Opening night will be First Friday, June 3.

More soon!


I haven't been posting because I've been in a frenzy of panicked production.

Today I did something with instant, gratifying results:

behold the starvation seeds vimeo account!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Here is a TV news story about Artyom Sidorkin, the Russian gentleman who recently had a two-inch live Fir tree removed from his lung where it had taken root

and more here

making salt dough mud cookies today. contemplating how to paint them. i also have to stuff a whole lot of Plumpiñon baggies....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

oatmeal bentonite cookies

making more clay cookies today.

I'm giving up on straight soil/clay. Previous experiments with mud and straight clay have taught me that cooking without any binding agents, starches, or flours is very difficult! I would like to present cookies that are actually edible, if not during the entire installation, at least at the opening. I think these oatmeal-based clay cookies are the best option.

During the installation, I think I'll make large salt dough cakes that will sit out on the floor as well as be stacked on the shelves. I know this is "cheating," but needs must--I can't have perishable food sitting out in a hot plastic box for a month! I'm also trying to figure out how to "fake" my liquid food. Right now glue, hair conditioner, and paint seem like likely contenders. I'm learning a lot from Bob Flanagan's process of designing his Visible Man. He talks about his materials a lot, what worked, what didn't, and I'm involved in a very similar process, making fluids from inside the body capable of existing outside the body without rotting or hardening up. Although, in my case, hardening would probably be OK if it didn't also mean discoloration.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I just ordered three of these photo frames that play video.

And I'm contemplating these clamp lamps for lighting. They sort of match the aesthetic of the greenhouse. If not, then these spots. I'm worried the halogens will melt the plastic panels, though...

Took measurements yesterday. Looks like the greenhouse will have to come apart to fit through the various doors/spaces of the museum....

drawing with measurements coming soon...

ack, this blog is so boring.

Friday, March 27, 2009

fusing plastic

spent the morning making more plumpy piñon baggies.

I also sealed some that I filled earlier. It worked pretty well.

So far the only problem is that some of the bags "sweat" nut oil. yuck! but, I'm not sure these will be something visitors take away, unless they choose to. I mean, I won't invite them to. So they can be greasy and not bother anyone, I suppose.

I'm going to stop wasting time on grocery store quality bags. Really, only the slightly nicer, smoother bags from stores like target and department stores work well. I've also had mixed results with "matte finish" bags, like from barnes and noble.

I shot some video of the bag process, just for fun, so look for that soon. I'll probably make a separate little plastic fusing video, because the footage doesn't really fit in with my installation video plans.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Made another batch of liquid tamales today. I made these for grandpa last year at Christmas. I'm betting the baggies will still be in the fridge when I next visit. Apparently Grandpa is in hospital right now with broken or bruised ribs, unsure which.

Anyway, I got some great/creepy video of the liquid pink stuff oozing around and bubbling inside the bags. Very much as I would imagine the inside of the stomach might look. The tamale + soy milk + blender combination yields a very fleshy, smooth substance.

As always, lucy's real food is the best. I just wish grandma would let grandpa try this stuff.

Also, cheesecloth makes a great strainer, I discovered.

Monday, March 23, 2009

mud cookies: second attempt

I tried the mud cookies again! Documentation here.

I'm munching on one now, though I don't want to eat too much and risk gastrointestinal distress.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

postcards for show

The postcards are in for our MFA show. I have to remember to go measure doors and windows on Friday.

Postcard Front
Postcard Back

Also, momentously, I'm done with my dissertation! Printed it! Done! Filing it Friday morning.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


at this point, i'm afraid this blog will deteriorate into a bookmarks file for future shopping! but, given my limited readership, i'm sure this won't pose a problem.

I found a glass door refrigerator that would work well for displaying my liquid food. A freezer would have been ideal, but a fridge will have to do. A glass door freezer wouldn't really work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Stanford FRI

I just discovered the Stanford Food Research Institute, and it's been closed for years. What a shame, it looks like it was a really interesting place.

Thinking about doing a weekend trip to Fresno to visit some food testing places.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

website redesign, influences, video

Redesigned the website today: Much improved, though still in progress.

I also recorded the last two video segments, one about liquid food, one about mud cookies. Someday I'll redo the footage with someone behind the camera. For now, it's all strange, static shots of my workspace and my disembodied hands. There is something really compelling about how the shots are composed though--maybe I'll keep going like this.

Yesterday N. asked me about my influences for this project. Coming up with a list was a good exercise and one I should elaborate on. For now, quickly, I'll say: Alison Knowles, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Corin Hewitt, Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell, Celia Herrera Rodriguez, many more. Links & more discussion of influences to come.


i've been slacking on posting the rest of the road trip diary. but to offset this, my dissertation is almost done! THAT will be a relief. I gave a lecture in B's class last night about the art I look at in all three chapters. I thought I was going too slow so I sped up, then ended up finishing too soon. good practice for lecturing twice a week next quarter, which I still can't fathom. It helped to watch the two video excerpts. Gave my voice a break. I also really liked using the microphone; i didn't leave the room feeling like i'd been yelling for two hours.

A. alerted me to this practice in Haiti, eating mud cookies: a video linked from huffington post

I'm shifting my project to focus on plumpy nut (working on prototyping some spiffy fused plastic bags), feeding tube food, and mud cookies. experimenting with mud cookies today. filmed plumpy nut yesterday. I should have filmed the friday forum, but I thought FF folk maybe wouldn't be into it. Plus that room sucks and I did not want to capture it in any way...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

scripting short video segments, plexi drawings, griping about jury duty

Yesterday I started scripting short video segments. They'll have a cooking show format, and I'll make three foods that relate to the general themes of my project:

1) Celebrate: Biscochitos (Mexican Wedding Cookies) 10 minutes
2) Starve: Plumpy Piñon paste 10 minutes
3) Survive: Liquid food for stomach tubes 10 minutes

So far I've written the biscochitos segment and am looking forward to taping it, as I will get to eat more yummy cookies.

I've also been working on the website for the project. My critique group thought a website would be a good idea, and I agree--I'm incorporating a bunch of rephotographed old family pictures. I only know who two of the people in the pictures are (much younger versions of my dad and my grandpa) so I'm making up stories for the rest. The website will be at . Working on it right now, so expect changes within the next few hours.

I made some plexiglass collages from bits and pieces of earlier drawings. Haven't finished or photographed them yet, but I mostly like how they turned out. I was hoping that my mod podge would dry clear, but it doesn't seem to clear up when sandwiched between plexi and transparency film. Maybe eventually. But I like how the clear mod podge brush strokes look on the plexi, and I like how the drawings look layered together.

I only had one meeting scheduled this week: studio visit with B. today at 5. So what happens? I have jury duty. I have a strong feeling I will have to report this afternoon--my number is up--numbers before and after mine have had to report. Even if I don't have to report, my day is still mostly ruined because I had planned to be working in my studio all day prior to B's visit. So even if we do meet, i'll be less prepared. OK, enough complaining about my civic duty...back to the website.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

another food prep lecture: Louise Fresco

Boing Boing just wrote up Louise Fresco's presentation at TED2009. Apparently she made bread and baked it while giving her talk, which was about bread's history and our changing perception of "good bread."

Food prep + lecture seems to be growing in popularity! I wonder what other examples of this phenomenon are out there.

A practical matter

I've been invited to a conference organized by Eva Hayward, a former colleague of mine in histcon. It's called Meet Animal Meat, and it's May 21-23 in Uppsala, Sweden. At first I was worried I wouldn't be able to go, because this is our exhibition schedule:

DANM MFA Exhibition, Part I
Install April 6(M)-16 (Th)
Dates April 17(F)-May 14(Th)
Reception May 1, First Friday
Deinstall May 15(F)-19(Tu) (during finals week)


Part II
Install May 20(W)-28(Th) (during finals week)
Dates May 29(F)-June 24(W)
Reception June 5, First Friday
Deinstall June 25(Th)-June 28 (Su)
Final Walk-Through June 28

Locations, all assigned to DANM April 6-June 28:
Art Forum Gallery
Third floor lobby
First floor foyer
Sculpture garden
Exterior projections

However, I just worked out an alternate plan with Soraya, the curator. Because nobody in the first show is using my space (the sculpture garden), I will start my installation during the first show's deinstall week. I can at least get the greenhouse in place and test electrical elements.

two inspiring things

There is still more road trip diary to post, and I still have to upload all the pictures, but before I do...

I've been inspired by two ways of approaching plants in art. First, Adia Millett's installation at the Sesnon's Some Assembly Required show is really beautiful. Apparently it will change over time, but when I saw it, she had a floor covered in mulch (something that would really add to the greenhouse installation at the MAH, I think...) and a huge orb hanging from the ceiling with a light inside. It looked like papier maché, but it also had a latexy quality to it. There's a hole in the side, and when you look in, you see a tiny little seedling.

I've been really struggling to grow my piñon seedlings--out of my most recent batch of 12, only 3 sprouted, maybe 4. And of those, it is still early, it's possible they will not all survive. Next time I'm going to try really soaking them after i plant the seeds. Anyway, this trouble with seedlings made me consider more visually stunning ways of displaying fewer seedlings. This orb thing is really inspiring. Although I wouldn't do exactly that, of course, I definitely started thinking of ways to light the seedlings, etc.

This is another Adia Millett piece, a photograph, with a plant involved. More elaborate than her installation in the Sesnon, but similarly beautiful.

The Sesnon installation supposedly has a webcam component but I have not gotten it working yet:

Another art project I've been really into lately is Alison Knowle's A Bean Concordence. It's a book project, and basically collages together recipes, news items, stories and photographs about beans. I haven't finished looking through it, but at first glance, I'm really interested in producing something similar for this project, maybe incorporating my thesis paper/making a book that would be both the paper and an art work/collage.

Monday, February 2, 2009

road trip diaries 2

September 4: Navajo National Monument to Montrose (Four Corners, Ouray Hot Springs)

The next day, I left the campsit very early, at like 6 am. I was relieved to put it behind me, even though the area was gorgeous. I've always wanted to visit Chaco Canyon, and I imagine it would be very similar to Navajo, because the two are close together although completely different in culture & architecture.

I stopped at the Four Corners tourist trap hoping that my $3 would get me a decent bathroom. No, just portable toilets. Ugh.

Here I am standing between Colorado and New Mexico.

Once in Colorado, I had a frustrating day looking for but not finding coffee. I was sort of happy that there was not a single starbucks in any of the towns I drove through (I expected one in Cortez!). The lack of coffee prompted my stop in Telluride. While Telluride is undeniably gorgeous, in a beautiful setting, the town and the people who hang out there are so annoying. But they do have coffee shops—I counted five! I got a great iced coffee with an espresso shot in it and proceeded to get the heck away from the Patagonia-wearing yuppie freaks who populate the town.

Coffee in hand I went to Ouray, a town just as gorgeous as Telluride without the crazy people. There is a wonderful natural hot springs there. I went swimming for about two or three hours.

This is the hot pool. One of the prettiest settings for a swimming pool ever.

From Ouray, I drove the 10 miles or so to Montrose, where my dad used to live before he got sucked into working in Fiji. He still has a house there, full of chiles and very funky. People used to heat their house with a heater in the basement and a bunch of holes in the floor upstairs. Someone carpeted over the floor without filling the holes, so when you walk around your feet dip into these soft spots. It's a little disconcerting. I had dinner with his ex-wife Ginny, who lives two blocks away (he followed her, it was weird). We went to Montrose's only and great Himalayan place.

September 5: Montrose to Denver

Montrose to Denver is either uneventful or gorgeous depending what road you take. 70 is uneventful (unless you want to go swimming again @ Glenwood Springs). 285 is gorgeous. One of my all time favorite hotsprings is en route near Buena Vista (pronounced BEUna Vista). Cottonwood hot springs is just a few miles from Buena Vista, but I didn't stop. Ouray satisfied my hot springs needs. 285 runs along the Rio Grande, which seems surprising as people usually think of the Rio Grande marking the US/Mexico border. But it doesn't. Denver is as far north as I went on this trip. My entire extended family lives there except for outposts in Phoenix and Portland/Seattle. I also have a lot of family in New Mexico, but they are not my immediate relatives.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

road trip diaries

the first of several posts about my road trip last soon...

September 1: Los Gatos to Pomona

En route I listed to invisible 5 (, although I will admit that I missed several cues and probably had an incomplete experience. It would be easier to do with someone else manning the stereo. I caught the majority of entries, and over and over again was impressed by what a great project that is. A similar audio tour approach could make a difference in a variety of environments.

Heather is working at Scripps Library in Claremont College. It was great to see her (she's been in North Carolina for two years prior). We watched I'm Not There and ate Fakin Bacon. Here she is in her beautiful office at the library:

September 2: Pomona to Phoenix

After an excellent breakfast with Heather and some really strong iced coffee, I plowed through route 10 to Phoenix. I've spent a fair amount of time on 10. Last time I drove it, I was the only passenger car except for a few cars broken down on the side of the road. It was easily 120 degrees outside and I remember feeling insane for being out there. This time wasn't as hot and there were plenty of other cars. My favorite part of route 10 is all the windmills in eastern California.

In Phoenix I stayed with my aunt Lynne. Her son Kaaba had left for Iraq a day or two before I arrived, so I helped her put together a care package. I always send him tea, apparently the tea selection sucks on base. This is his fourth or fifth deployment, so we're almost used to it, but never completely at ease while he's gone. When I arrived he had apparently just called and complained about how he wasn't even flying (he's a pilot in the Air Force) so he didn't even know why he was there.

I met Lynne's new girlfriend Joan (her partner of 21 years died last year) and we ate macaroni and cheese at a restaurant near her house in Gilbert. She is talking about moving into Phoenix proper, and I think she should. Gilbert is pretty sterile, straight, and boring, even for Arizona…

September 3: Phoenix to Navajo National Monument (Botanical Preserve)

On my way out of town I stopped by a botanical preserve and stole some prickly pear pads from this gorgeous plant.

I'm sure I wasn't exactly allowed to do this, but the plant looked to be very healthy and capable of recovering. In order to grow prickly pear, you just cut a pad, let it scab over, then stand it up in some dirt. The pads I took in Phoenix stayed in a paper bag in the back of my car until I got back to California, when I stuck them in the greenhouse. Jury is still out if the greenhouse is the best environment for them. It might be too humid.

I drove on to Navajo National Monument, which would have been a gorgeous camping stop if it weren't for the idiot man who asked me for my phone number while I was looking at the monument. I said no, I'm not giving it to you, and he said, "oh, that's OK, I'll just follow you." So I started walking away really fast and eventually attached myself to a group of tourists, going back down the mountain and back up with them. I saw him later in the campsite but I don't think he saw me. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well.

This is the monument, and my tent.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

seeds ordered

I've had great experiences with my seed provider, Plants of the Southwest. I just ordered a ton of piñon nut seeds from them. When I visited in September, their store was just lovely, with a great little cafe too. It's quite close to busy streets in Santa Fe but you'd never know--feels like you're hours outside of town.

Friday, January 23, 2009

mah visit

Earlier this week I went to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, where our MFA show will be. We'll be in two installments, first in April/May then May/June. I'm in May/June. I'm going to put the greenhouse outside in the third floor sculpture garden. It's a really beautiful little space, with an um, eclectic variety of sculpture on hand. I took a picture of the spot where i want to put the greenhouse. Imagine that bench being gone, replaced by the greenhouse. Putting it there means you can see it from inside too, as those glass windows overlook the stairwell.

It's a relief to have a site for the installation. I'm thinking about vellum prints of some of my drawings to put up over the inside windows.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

plumpy piñon recipe

this is the recipe I developed for "Plumpy Piñon," a piñon nut version of the humanitarian aid food, Plumpy'Nut, which uses peanuts.

Plumpy Piñon

2 T Piñon nuts,
ground into paste
1 t Vitamin powder
1 t Powered sugar
1 t Granulated sugar

Mix together to form a paste. For additional comfort, fill a small plastic bag, snip a corner, and suck the paste from the bag.

The basic recipe is, combine different sugars and vitamin powder (I used a soy protein powder, sort of a cheat...) and then add roughly the same amount of nut paste. Combining with your hands seems to work best.

Most people wanted their plumpy in a bag.

N. took the leftovers home to her kids so they could connect to malnourished African kids.

This is what it looks like.

road trip exhibition @ SJ Museum of Art

Yesterday I went to the "Road Trip" exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Contemporary Art. It closes in just a few days, so I wanted to be sure to go. B. and I both have soft spots for road trips, and I just did a huge one for the MFA project, gathering seeds and plants for my greenhouse. Since then I've narrowed things down to the piñon--I wish I had already made that decision before going on the road, I could have had a very different, more focused experience.

There were some really great pieces, but overall, it was kind of a let down. I could think of 5-10 amazing performances/pictures/installations that would have been perfect for the show, but as it was, there just wasn't a lot to look at, and only the photographs seemed to work together. There was also a thread of maps and geography running through the show, but again, not developed conceptually by the curators (who seem to be anonymous--I can't find their names on any of the literature we picked up or on the website).

Highlights were photographs by Amy Stein, Lee Friedlander, and Eleanor Antin. B. and I both agreed that the best three things in the show were Tracey Snelling's diorama of a drive-in theatre with a screen in place of the movie screen, Nina Katchadourian's beautiful "map dissection" of the United States, and also Lordy Rodriguez's hilarious reconfiguration of a US map. I also liked Margarita Cabrera's Vocho, and Sophie Calle had a video running that looked like it would have been great if I had time to sit there and watch it. This style of exhibition seems an unfortunate way to screen a 75 minute film.

All told, if you missed this show, don't agonize about it, but if you go, find those three things, check out the photos, and you'll probably have a good time.

Upstairs, there is a really nice cardboard sculpture show worth checking out, and a delightfully creepy Tony Oursler piece in the gallery next door.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

friday forum 2

more about friday forum...

My most recent food experiences have been about survival, mixing, and liquification. My grandfather has been unable to swallow for the last six months. This started with misdirected swallowing, where he would swallow and everything would dump into his lungs. Then he stopped being able to swallow at all. He's been using a stomach tube and will be for the foreseeable future.

I looked around online and found Lucy's Real Food, a website with recipes designed for tube feeding. Right now, grandpa's entire diet is made up of canned stuff that doesn't even need to be refrigerated. I figured some fresh vegetables couldn't hurt. I made him the mixed vegetables recipe and the tamales recipe. The process was really easy. When I went home for Christmas, I froze the food and took it with me--probably a gallon or two of frozen bags. So far, my grandma has been resisting the idea of him eating it, and I predict it'll still be there in their fridge when I go back to Denver, but I feel good about trying.

Related to grandpa's survival on liquid canned food, I've become interested in a product called Plumpy Nut. It's a humanitarian aid food designed for malnourished kids, mostly Africans. It's a good alternative to typical treatments for malnutrition because kids can eat it themselves and don't have to be hospitalized, on IVs, etc. Plumpy Nut is copyrighted, even though it is also locally produced and designed for humanitarian purposes. This seems to be an interesting tension, but as far as I can tell, Nutriset's copyright hasn't prevented other organizations from developing peanut-based nutrition for similar populations.

I hope the current peanut butter salmonella disaster hasn't affected Plumpy Nut.

At the end of the Friday Forum talk, which was a monologue with slides and stories, I made plumpy nut out of piñon. This activity makes literal the "survival nut" side of piñon. I developed a handout that included a recipe for piñon plumpy nut, as well as some great facts about piñons from Birdy Jaworski's article.

The discussion both during the formal discussion period and around the plumpy nut preparation was very useful to me. We came up with my new title, Starvation Seeds, and I discussed ways of showing how I might document/stream video of other piñon activities in the museum space.

Tomorrow, I'm going to meet with S., our curator, and go to the museum to try and get a grip on the space I will have and what my options for installing will be.

friday forum

Welcome to the Starvation Seeds blog. I'm an MFA candidate at the University of California Santa Cruz, in the Digital Art & New Media program. I realized today that I needed a place to keep track of the project, documentation, news, etc., so I've started this blog. Thanks for reading!

Last week I participated in something we have at UCSC called Friday Forum. It's a student-run roundtable to present works in progress. I talked about my thesis project and made two piñon nut dishes. First, I brought biscochitos that incorporated ground piñon nuts. I used this recipe, except I made a few changes:


6 c. sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. anise seed
2 eggs
1/2 c. brandy
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl cream together the butter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and anise seed. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy, and add to the creamed mixture. Add the flour mixture and the brandy, using only enough brandy to make a stiff dough. Mix until well blended.

Knead slightly and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar, and dust the pastry with the mixture. Cut into shapes and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes 5 dozen.

The changes I made were:

halve the recipe (there were still plenty of cookies)
include a handful of ground piñon nuts
use whiskey instead of brandy

Also, I find it very helpful when making biscochitos to cut them into diamonds using a pizza cutter. It saves tons of time, and if you press lightly, you won't damage the cloth you used under the dough.

So we started with these cookies, the opposite of starvation food, usually eaten at christmas and weddings. These are the state cookie of New Mexico. In southern New Mexico, people say biscochos, but my family is concentrated in the northern parts, Santa Fe and up.

I talked about the piñon tree, its meaning for generations of New Mexicans, and for extreme travelers like the conquistadors and members of the Donner party. There is a great article about piñons by Birdy Jawoski here. I also talked about how we decide what is food and what is not food. For example, the Donner party wandered through thick piñon forests and were even offered piñon nuts as food, but still refused to see the nuts as sustenance. On the other hand, taboos sometimes teach us that stuff we really shouldn't think of as food is. Cannibalism arises because in some way, because we have a taboo against it, we do think of people as food. So the Donner party ignored an obvious vegetarian option.

I also talked about my family's imaginary origin point in the conquistador Pánfilo de Narvaes, leader of the ill-fated expedition that launched Cabeza de Vaca on his 8 year long journey. I should clarify, now that I'm posting this somewhat publicly, this is a small faction of my family. The relatives I still visit in NM have nothing to do with this--they are from my great-grandmother's side of the family, and this is my great-grandfather's side. My great-grandfather always told us his entire family was killed in a train accident--seven brothers and sisters, all dead. But when he himself died, a relative from NM came up to Denver and told us that his brother had survived, was living in NM, and had kept the name Narvaes, after the conquistador, who was our ancestor.

Geographically, it works--Narvaes shipwrecked off the Texas coast, and my great grandfather's family came to NM from Northern Mexico and Texas, where Cabeza de Vaca wandered. But culturally, I find this very problematic and difficult to swallow. The conquistadors aren't my favorite characters in history. I have trouble recuperating them to be beloved ancestor/fathers.

I also talked about some things going on in my present family, and some recent encounters with food, mixers, and liquification. I have to run now, but I'll write again soon with more about my FF talk and some possible avenues to pursue from here.

About Me

My photo
Lindsay Kelley is an artist and writer researching bioart, fringe foods, and uncommon modes of food preparation and ingestion. She is currently completing her book manuscript, The Bioart Kitchen. Lindsay holds a MFA in Digital Art & New Media and a Ph.D in the History of Consciousness, both from the University of California Santa Cruz. She works at the Public Library of Science on the PLOS ONE editorial team.