Michelin-star tasting menu meets VR art in Miami, courtesy of Meta and Superblue

[The post title is from ARTNews but the story below is from the Miami Herald, and it describes the latest version of an intriguing “presence and food” experience reported in a September 2019 ISPR Presence News post. The ARTNews story includes this:

“’How do you visualize taste? What is the shape of spice? What is the color of flavor?’ [Creator Mattia] Casalegno said in an interview, describing his project. ‘I conceived Aerobanquets RMX as a total feast for the senses, a multi-sensory journey, a tool to reprogram all our perceptive expectations.’ … Casalegno first conceived of Aerobanquets in 2018 with the help of a fellowship grant from the Chronus Art Center. The project initially appeared in Shanghai in collaboration with Flavio G. Carestia, a chef at the Toscanini restaurant in Amsterdam. The following year, it was presented at the James Beard house in New York City. Since then, the technology has improved significantly, especially when it comes to the headsets being able to replicate movements made in the physical world. To capitalize on this, Casalegno and his production studio, Flavor Five Studio, designed site-specific, custom-made furniture to make the experience as dynamic and fluid as possible.”

See a June 2021 story from the Miami New Times for more information on the Superblue immersive art experience, where

“visitors are encouraged to touch and stand inside various massive installations that allow art and visitors to coexist and create a symbiotic meaning. As Superblue likes to say to visitors, ‘You complete the art.’ It truly is an immersive experience in every sense of the word, resulting in something memorable, individualized, and powerful.”


[Image: Source: The Alike blog]

Miami, is that this the way forward for eating? Try this new digital actuality expertise for foodies

By Connie Ogle
November 29, 2022

When it is paired with a surreal, swirling landscape, what does a mousse of Roasted Hopes taste like? Is it sweet or bitter? Is it redolent of all your dreams, salted with success and yet fragrant with a faint hint of failure?

And more importantly, can you get it into your mouth while wearing a virtual reality headset without dropping it on the floor?

At “Aerobanquets RMX,” the new virtual reality-meets-culinary experience at Superblue Miami, you can find out for yourself what a dish called Roasted Hopes tastes like (and if you can manage to eat it). This is a delightful if pleasantly disorienting experience, produced by Flavor Five Studio and running at the Allapattah museum throughout Miami Art Week, fusing the senses of sight, sound and taste, robbing you of expectations and placing you entirely in the hands of its creators.

Here’s how the experience works: When you arrive, you enjoy a glass of something sparkling (champagne or water), and a guide will explain how you will eat (there are regular and vegan options). Pay attention. You will need this lesson. Then you will be ushered into a futuristic dining room to a table for four, and another guide will help you strap on your Meta Quest 2 VR headset.

Get ready. Your journey, during which you will teeter on a cliff and manipulate the soundtrack as musical instruments cascade around you, has begun. You may recognize a flavor here and there — was that ginger? was that ice cream? — but don’t be surprised if tasting suddenly feels like a new experience.

On your travels, narrated by Gail Simmons of “Top Chef,” you will roll through trippy landscapes and scenarios, each ending with a deeply flavored, finely textured amuse-bouche (a bite-sized hors d’oeuvre) served on a small ceramic cup. You grip the cup, tip it back and, ideally, slide the food into your mouth in one movement. When you miss — and you will — a magical hand will appear to present you with a napkin.

Creator Mattia Casalegno says the inability to know exactly what you’re eating is key to the experience.

“You don’t know what to expect, and I think your senses are more open, more heightened,” he says. “There’s a lot of trust involved.”

A 1932 cookbook entitled “The Futurist Cookbook,” which imagined fantastical dinners and the future of food, inspired Casalegno, who has long used mixed reality technology in building interactive installations. He worked with Chef Chintan Pandya on the menu.

Pandya, the force behind such New York restaurants as Semma, Dhamaka and Adda, says the exercise was a big leap from creating a traditional menu and that the hardest part was blending so many flavors and textures into one bite.

“The first time, I thought it was nearly impossible,” he says. “I’ve been cooking conventional food. You have a big plate or a big bowl. He told me it needed to be bite-sized, but with multiple layers, multiple textures, multiple flavor profiles. He guided me through, and we kept on learning. We’re still learning.”

And so you taste the bite of … something… that “tastes like the first time you ever bit your lip,” and it does. You marvel. Why is this so wondrous? Pandya has a theory.

“Let’s say you go to a conventional restaurant and you order a salad,” he says. “When you order a salad, your mind has already prepared you for what a salad is going to be. Seafood salad, chicken salad, or a regular salad — your mind says ‘This is what you’re going to eat,’ and you’re ready for it. I’m going to serve you the same salad, but I’m going to put you in a virtual world where you might be in a random desert, and there are horses running around, and I give you this dish in cube form. Your mind is going a different way. Your mind is looking at something else. It’s a very different type of experience.”

Experiences, of course, are the backbone of what Superblue aims to provide. Its new installation, “Pulse Topology” by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, uses 3,000 lights to mimic the heartbeats of different participants (including you).

Kathleen Forde, senior curator for Superblue, says the audience is always a vital part of the museum’s works.

“You’re affecting the artwork because of your perception or your participation,” she says. In some installations, “You affect the way videos move. In ‘Aerobanquets,’ you have to actually ingest food for the show to happen. Superblue is not based on objects but experiences. In some way, shape or form, the audience completes the artwork.”

Aerobanquets RMX:

Where: Superblue, 1101 NW twenty third St., Miami

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and 7-11 p.m.

Cost: $58 for 30-60 minute day session; $200 for 30-60 minute evening session

Tickets: superblue.com/aero

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