This year, during Art Basel Miami Beach, Superblue expands its remit of presenting large-scale experiential pieces by engaging a sense often abandoned by visual artists: taste..
Right now, Superblue is offering a mixed reality experience that’s equal parts Michelin-starred tasting menu and guided VR buffet. It’s a co-production with the Open Arts division of Facebook’s parent company Meta, which reportedly cut its art and design arm earlier this month.
People who purchase tickets ($58 daytime, $200 for an evening session) will be taken to a futuristic dining room, designed by the artist and founder of Aerobanquets, Mattia Casalegno. Each diner will don a Meta Quest 2 VR headset before being served a menu of appetizers specially created by Chef Chintan Pandya.
In the virtual world, guests will be guided by the gentle voice of best boss host Gail Simmons, while the flavors and textures of the bites are rendered before their eyes and ears. The experience can be hard to imagine, but that’s kind of the point.
“How do you visualize taste? What is the shape of the spice? What is the flavor color? Casalegno said in an interview describing his project. “I designed the Aerobanquets RMX as a total feast for the senses, a multi-sensory journey, a tool to reprogram all our perceptual expectations.
It’s not a small dish.
The experience was inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti The futuristic cookbook. Published in 1932, the cookbook is a collection of surreal recipes that reflect on what a person’s relationship to food will be like in the future. Casalegno was an early adopter of mixed reality, and with Pandya he uses The futuristic cookbook as a springboard to investigate the relationship between technology and food, drawing heavily on the book’s utopian sensibility.
The menu includes at least some ingredients that visitors will find familiar, though many are unlikely to be cooked using the methods practiced by Julia Child.. There will be a “mousse of roasted hopes”, “a pearl that tastes like the first time you bite your lip” and a pie that evokes the “whistle the wind makes through a door lock by a cold autumn afternoon”. The meal will be accompanied by an original score by electronic composer Martux_M, who recently performed at the Sonar festival in Barcelona.
Casalegno first designed Aerobanquets in 2018, with the help of a grant from the Chronus Art Center. The project initially appeared in Shanghai in collaboration with Flavio G. Carestia, chef of the Toscanini restaurant in Amsterdam. The following year it was presented at the James Beard House in New York.
Since then, technology has improved dramatically, especially in the ability of headsets to replicate movements performed in the physical world. To capitalize on this, Casalegno and its production studio, Flavor Five Studio, designed site-specific bespoke furniture to make the experience as dynamic and fluid as possible.
“It’s artists like Mattia Casalegno, fearlessly diving into the metaverse and challenging its limits, that advance our understanding and capabilities in this new frontier,” said Tina Vaz, Head of Meta Open Arts.
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