Data Cuisine by Prozessagenten

Pick of the Week #88

Data Cuisine is a data visualisation project that uses the medium of food to express data. They ran a workshop at the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki and also presented at Resonate.

data cuisine 1Taste of migration, Eleonora Ivanova. Each non-Finnish nationality is represented by a stripe of typical food – from Salmon for the Swedish to rice for the Chinese. The amount of food on the plate corresponds to the number of people from that nationality who live in Finland.

Using food as a means for data expression, Data Cuisine takes the medium of dataviz and subverts it, turning it into a sensory experience rather than a static infographic. Their workshop at Open Knowledge Festival, ‘Open Data Cooking Workshop’, ended with the presentation of an ‘Open Data Menu’, featuring some of the dishes pictured here. The workshop was produced by Pixelache and organised by prozessagenten in collaboration with Moritz Stefaner, Miska Knapek and Antti Nurkka.

“Have you ever tried to imagine how a fish soup tastes whose recipe is based on publicly available local fishing data? Or what a pizza would be like if it was based on Helsinki’s population mix? Data Cuisine explores food as a means of data expression – or, if you like – edible diagrams.”

happiness cocktailHappiness cocktail, Jen Lowe. A personalized shrimp cocktail, representing not only the number of your facebook friends, but especially how many of them are smiling on their profile pictures. More rice means more friends; more shrimp means more happy friends.

“For data visualization in graphical form, the basic building blocks are well identified: Visual marks such as lines or areas carry information – and they have roughly the following “visual variables” that can be modified in order to express information:

What excites us about data cuisine is the abundance of additional ‘culinary variables’ we can use to express information!

Of course, all of the above are available (2D painting with food). Then we have all kinds of sculptural 3D possibilities. We can work with taste – from the basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami to complex combinations or hotness. There is texture – immensely important in cooking! Then we have all the cultural connotations of ingredients and dishes (potatoes, caviar, …). We can work with cooking parameters (e.g. baking temperature or duration). Or the temperature of the dish itself, when served! And all the little decision that go into plating and food presentation… The possibilities seem endless!”

kippis Kippis! This map of Finland shows the differences in alcohol consumption across Finland. Each region is symbolized with typical food from the area; the amount of wine, beer, and spirits consumed (compared to the average) is hown in the fill height of three glasses per region.

“One open question here is definitely the perception of these new “culinary variables”. We know how people, for instance, tend to estimate the size of areas – but how do you make something “twice as salty”? Will adding the double amount of salt lead to the desired result? Or is the relation between stimulus (amount of salt) and perception of the amount non-linear?”

criminalCriminal herring in fur coat, Dmitrii Rogozhin. Finland’s crime rates 2011 represented in a criminally stacked Russian salad. Each layer represents one type of crime.

Projects like Data Cuisine open up the possibilities for the future of data expression, and remind us that possibilities to make data relevant, fun and involving are always out there.

The Data Cuisine Project can be found here

Prozessagenten website

Open Knowledge Festival website 

Resonate

Pixelache

Moritz Stefaner