OS Fermentation: Collaborative Hacks with Fruits, Vegetables, and Microbes

If you are participating in a workshop or want to learn more, check out our OS Fermentation Workshop page.


Celebrity-chef shows, government guidelines, nutritional labels, commercial marketing: they are everywhere, telling audiences that healthy choices are simple and easy while rates of “globesity” and diseases associated with poor nutrition keep rising, at the same time that local food traditions continue to be replaced by industrial models of food production and consumption. In response to this global crisis, Edible Ecologies positions art as an urgent intervention operating between utility and imagination, between a useful food resource and always-evolving food-innovation, reliable yet flexible in these unpredictable times.

The first released Edible Ecologies performance is the OS FERMENTATION: COLLABORATIVE HACKS WITH FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND MICROBES, débuting at FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action (An upstate/downstate NY survey of artists who work with food and agriculture), Smack Mellon Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (June 14 – July 20, 2014), curated by Amy Lipton of ecoartspace.

The Fermentation Workshop / Microbial Collaboration dwells in a primitive, microbial, ecological, edible, slow-food time-space: in a fermentation workshop at art venues, artists and participants will work together to transform vegetables into nutritious fermented concoctions. Reviving the ancient process of microbiological fermentation that provided our ancestors with a method of food preservation as well as diverse intestinal flora, this workshop puts bacteria on the performance stage. Fermentation-based preservation is a process of carefully managed decomposition and a wild, unpredictable, playful collaboration between species to create living yet long-lasting food. Fermentation is also a skill being lost in the industrial food system, which has positioned eaters as passive consumers rather than participants while declaring war on all bacteria, including those that support our health.

Unpredictability, experimentation, collaboration, spontaneity, interactivity, wildness: fermentation and contemporary performance share the same essential qualities, and these happen to be the same capabilities so needed in our current food crisis. By recovering historic food practices and breaking through the cacophony of food misinformation that constructs eating as a passive consumer act, the Edible Ecologies performances revive and remix creative ways of participating with our own healing and sustenance. Like social-sculptor Joseph Beuys, we see ourselves as both artists and healers facilitating the healing of modern bodies and the recovery of memory for modern minds, working collaboratively with participants to reimagine “how we mold our thoughts or how we shape our thoughts into words or how we mold and shape the world in which we live.”

For hi-res press images, click here.


OS Fermentation @ Smack Mellon opening, June/July 2014

FOODshed exhibition curated by Amy Lipton, June 7-July 27, 2014: http://smackmellon.org/index.php?cID=1333

OS Fermentation involves live ferments of fruits and vegetables, and computer sensors and custom software/electronics interpreting fermentation data and generating images based on fermentations’ pH, oxygen, and color levels. As part of the OS fermentation installation and prints, the artists will hold a public fermentation workshop in July at Smack Mellon.

The OS Fermentation installation, workshop, and prints are part of our Edible Ecologies project, a series of social sculptures that work collaboratively with local communities to remediate what we call “industrial amnesia” and to resuscitate historic food practices.

OS Fermentation

Photo credits: Roland Andrijauskas, Nicole Sansone.

1 Comment

  1. Fermentation at The University of Rochester |
    May 23, 2014

    […] easier than I thought it would be, and now that Leila and Peppermint are beginning to expand the workshops under the moniker ecoarttech, you can also take part! Even if you are unable to attend these […]