RECIPE FOR EARTHLY SURVIVAL

This text was first devised as a recipe-based thought experiment, written and performed as part of the Whitstable Biennale and Water Bodies School for Evolution in June 2018. Drawing on my PhD research, it explores processes of digestion and entanglement with algae in performance practice. The text was performed live, while images of ingredients (sea water, salt, ash, seaweed…) were projected from a microscope and seaweed bread was eaten by the audience. Recipes invite adaptation and improvisation; therefore, a new method has been added to the original text alongside additional ‘cooking tips’. The following is a culinary collaboration between human and nonhuman cooks, digesting being beyond words.

Ingredients:

Algae
Sun

Method: Diffraction

Ingredients in this recipe are diffracted and digested in multiple ways across different temporalities. In Meeting the Universe Halfway, Karen Barad explains diffraction as a methodology of dynamic relations based around how light behaves as both a particle and wave.

Diffraction is about blurring dichotomies, where subjects and objects of research are entangled through apparatuses of experimentation. Therefore, recipes as a mode of diffractive research create and map embodied pathways of knowledge, enfolding ways of thinking-through ecologies of digestion, beyond binary logic. This process involves deciphering and dissolving past-present-future ingredients of planetary ecology, re-turning to intestinal imaginaries as ecologies of thought. Bodies diffracted through each other are digesting in-formation.

Step 1: Becoming-with

You will need:

Carbon as Consciousness.
Breath as Climate.
Guts as instinct.

Cooking tip: Chew over everything slowly. Consider - how can cooking and chemistry highlight forms of reciprocal nourishment and symbiotic exchange

This recipe invites edible encounters with algae, where metabolic processes are means of ‘becoming-with’ different entities through digestion in matters of earthly survival. These ingredients are also cooks themselves. They are around the room and on this page, you are some of them, breathing them and they you, metabolising each other in symbiosis.

Considering the role of algae in ecological relations grasps towards an ethics of entanglement, mapping enfolded bodies through reciprocities and respiration.

Anne Marie Mol considers the material processes of merging that occur through food, theorising understandings of subjectivity in relation to the act of eating and the interaction between eater and object:

The eating self is not an agent in even a remotely similar way. It does not control ‘‘its’’ body at all. Take: I eat an apple. Is the agency in the I or in the apple? I eat, for sure, but without apples before long there would be no ‘‘I’’ left. And it is even more complicated. For how to separate us out to begin with, the apple and me? One moment this may be possible: here is the apple, there am I. But a little later (bite, chew, swallow) I have become (made out of) apple; while the apple is (a part of) me. Transubstantiation. What about that for a model to think with?
(Anne Marie Mol 2008: 30)

Words, mouths, teeth and tongues tell stories that transform states of matter and mattering. From species decline to ocean acidification, air pollution and melting icecaps, stories of earthly survival are enfolded in elemental narratives of becoming-with. This cooking process involves all humans and nonhumans present, skin cells and gut bacteria, melting ice, microalgae, bats and butterflies, trees, sand, seaweed, salt, soil, ash and water.

Step 2: Atmosphere

You will need:

An assembly of cooks, human and nonhuman.
A room that expands around the edges.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

Isabelle Stengers explores a proposition as a “lure for feeling”, a world that “might be”, a re-orientation that enables us to think about what bends and shapes our reality.

I think of a fishing lure, a lure made of giant tendrils of seaweed, perhaps kelp, a forest of kelp that lures in life. If ‘to lure’ is a form of capture, seaweed is also a lure for carbon, tendril tongues inhale carbon from the atmosphere, releasing breathable oxygen for humans and other organisms. This story began billions of years ago when the earth was just a bubbling primordial broth of bacteria. Bacterial broth is also a science experiment of a different kind derived from seaweed extracts, alginates; gelatinous offerings from red or brown seaweed, often kelps. Sargassum is a form of brown seaweed, not known as much for its alginates as for its microhabitats and floating rafts, buoyed by air bubbles and travelling vast distances to wash up here, in Whitstable.

Before buoyant oxygen bubbles of sargassum and earth’s atmosphere there was just bacteria. In a strange bending and spiralling of cyanobacteria, blue-green algae began to shape earth’s reality. Alchemy began in microscopic cells, the partial digestion of one cell by another to form a new body, endosymbiont, and photosynthesis was born. Strange spirals bubbling in earth’s primordial broth, eating sunlight and cooking earth’s atmosphere.

Step 3: Naturecultures

You will need:

Clouds that combine to make thunder and lightning.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

Everything is always in a process of becoming, transforming and being shaped through encounters. Listen to your heartbeat, become aware of your rib cage, feel your lungs widen and stretch the intercostal muscles between your bones, expanding into a giant whale skeleton on the bottom of the ocean floor, a feast for those inhabitants of the deep who have never seen sunlight. Your body is among the brittle stars and the sea cucumbers, the shrimp and the lantern fish, emitting their own lure for unsuspecting small fish, a phosphorescent glow. The ancient deposits of skeletons and microorganisms that fall to the ocean floor become buried in sediment, sinking down and becoming compressed over billions of years beneath the earth’s crust.

Deep sea drilling penetrates and awakens these carbon deposits, earth-baked bones and remains that have slumbered for so long erupt through pipelines. Blood mixes with oil spilled from these drills. At what cost are these ruptures made? The names of Hurricanes ring in my ears, resounding loudly amidst a din of drilling. Bodies of water must protect other bodies of water. Interlinked through forms of exploitation that do not care about ancient lineages. These lures for feeling run deep through rivers and oceans, bodies, trees and clouds. Clouds of carbon release at a rate that the oceans cannot swallow. Kelp tongues can’t keep the pace as acidity continues to rise, curling, burning under the weight of it. Outer layers of foraminifera and diatoms with calcium shells made of silica erode gradually, dissolving… they tell their story through disappearance.

Step 4: Chaos theory

You will need:

Butterflies that flaps their wings and cause Hurricanes.
Bats that flap and cause Tsunamis.
Echolocation.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

The reverse equation of photosynthesis is respiration. To breathe out heavily on a cold day makes a small cloud. A microclimate.

There is a thickness in this form of exhalation. An inner fog is rendered palpable by the air temperature, released into the atmosphere like thought bubbles of conscious breathing. The air is different here. Exhale slowly. A small cloud of water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Consciousness and climate are choreographies of carbon. Changing configurations transform into clouds. What type of cloud is consciousness? Stratus. Ones that sometimes thunder and lightning. Crackling in a glow that extends beyond worlds. The effects of human consumption on the planet cast dark clouds, both tangible and toxic.

Who thrives in these climes? Some forms of life proliferate- blooms of algae and jellyfish - creatures that are also bio-indicators, adaptors, survivors. What speak recipes of earthly survival, eating bodies cultivated for the sole reason of consumption? What is the next story of extinction? Thoughts are already within nature’s own cooking. Plastid cells metabolizing sunlight and lightning striking like a clock that says time’s up humans- does this thought chime well here? Fire and fury within nature as part of earthly cooking of carbon existed long before humans fanned the fire. Lava speaks the volcano, stomach full of bats, breathing flames.

Step 5: Climates of Consciousness

You will need:

To breathe out a small cloud of fog and watch it rain.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

To speak in nonhuman tongues requires deep listening, attunement to more than one sense, perhaps infrasound and echolocation might be better tools to resonate inside human ribcages and intestines.

I think about my tongue and ask you to do the same, this slimy, slippery organ of sensorial transmission. The strongest muscle in the body. Umbilically linking sensations of touching as tasting. Touch and taste are one and the same except the point of contact mostly happens inside the mouth. To fully commit our tongues to contact with nonhuman encounters perhaps we must place them in more unfamiliar territory? This conduit to the outside world speaks in collective climates of consciousness through clouds of exchange. Lightning, radar and tentacle tongues extend towards the ocean, interlinking and inter-licking between seaweed tendrils and other tentacular threads, weaving inside and outside in forms of slippery suggestion.

The human mouth denatures through saliva. A breakdown occurs beyond our teeth that is chemically produced, starting what our gut bacteria will finish. Speech becomes sensation. De-naturing occurs through human mouths. There are no words for nature to be conjured by these tongues, they must be spoken in other ways for true communion to occur. Embodied and encountered in altered states of conscious perception and through movement that takes us beyond the limits of human form. Tongue-tied we are bound together. Another fold in multispecies recipe-writing becomes a form of speaking out-loud, with other tongues.

Mouth denatures. Speak seaweed tongues.

Taste tongues. Speak seaweed.

Taste denatures speak tongues.

Seaweed mouths: taste denatures.

Sea speaks.

Step 6: Speak Sea

The audience were then invited to create their own diffractive recipe from the assemblage of ingredients, methods and cooks around the room and outside.

Continue ruminating and collectively cooking. Digest slowly.

Serving suggestion: Offer your tongue to the ocean

RECIPE FOR EARTHLY SURVIVAL

This text was first devised as a recipe-based thought experiment, written and performed as part of the Whitstable Biennale and Water Bodies School for Evolution in June 2018. Drawing on my PhD research, it explores processes of digestion and entanglement with algae in performance practice. The text was performed live, while images of ingredients (sea water, salt, ash, seaweed…) were projected from a microscope and seaweed bread was eaten by the audience. Recipes invite adaptation and improvisation; therefore, a new method has been added to the original text alongside additional ‘cooking tips’. The following is a culinary collaboration between human and nonhuman cooks, digesting being beyond words.

Ingredients:

Algae
Sun

Method: Diffraction

Ingredients in this recipe are diffracted and digested in multiple ways across different temporalities. In Meeting the Universe Halfway, Karen Barad explains diffraction as a methodology of dynamic relations based around how light behaves as both a particle and wave.

Diffraction is about blurring dichotomies, where subjects and objects of research are entangled through apparatuses of experimentation. Therefore, recipes as a mode of diffractive research create and map embodied pathways of knowledge, enfolding ways of thinking-through ecologies of digestion, beyond binary logic. This process involves deciphering and dissolving past-present-future ingredients of planetary ecology, re-turning to intestinal imaginaries as ecologies of thought. Bodies diffracted through each other are digesting in-formation.

Step 1: Becoming-with

You will need:

Carbon as Consciousness.
Breath as Climate.
Guts as instinct.

Cooking tip: Chew over everything slowly. Consider - how can cooking and chemistry highlight forms of reciprocal nourishment and symbiotic exchange

This recipe invites edible encounters with algae, where metabolic processes are means of ‘becoming-with’ different entities through digestion in matters of earthly survival. These ingredients are also cooks themselves. They are around the room and on this page, you are some of them, breathing them and they you, metabolising each other in symbiosis.

Considering the role of algae in ecological relations grasps towards an ethics of entanglement, mapping enfolded bodies through reciprocities and respiration.

Anne Marie Mol considers the material processes of merging that occur through food, theorising understandings of subjectivity in relation to the act of eating and the interaction between eater and object:

The eating self is not an agent in even a remotely similar way. It does not control ‘‘its’’ body at all. Take: I eat an apple. Is the agency in the I or in the apple? I eat, for sure, but without apples before long there would be no ‘‘I’’ left. And it is even more complicated. For how to separate us out to begin with, the apple and me? One moment this may be possible: here is the apple, there am I. But a little later (bite, chew, swallow) I have become (made out of) apple; while the apple is (a part of) me. Transubstantiation. What about that for a model to think with?
(Anne Marie Mol 2008: 30)

Words, mouths, teeth and tongues tell stories that transform states of matter and mattering. From species decline to ocean acidification, air pollution and melting icecaps, stories of earthly survival are enfolded in elemental narratives of becoming-with. This cooking process involves all humans and nonhumans present, skin cells and gut bacteria, melting ice, microalgae, bats and butterflies, trees, sand, seaweed, salt, soil, ash and water.

Step 2: Atmosphere

You will need:

An assembly of cooks, human and nonhuman.
A room that expands around the edges.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

Isabelle Stengers explores a proposition as a “lure for feeling”, a world that “might be”, a re-orientation that enables us to think about what bends and shapes our reality.

I think of a fishing lure, a lure made of giant tendrils of seaweed, perhaps kelp, a forest of kelp that lures in life. If ‘to lure’ is a form of capture, seaweed is also a lure for carbon, tendril tongues inhale carbon from the atmosphere, releasing breathable oxygen for humans and other organisms. This story began billions of years ago when the earth was just a bubbling primordial broth of bacteria. Bacterial broth is also a science experiment of a different kind derived from seaweed extracts, alginates; gelatinous offerings from red or brown seaweed, often kelps. Sargassum is a form of brown seaweed, not known as much for its alginates as for its microhabitats and floating rafts, buoyed by air bubbles and travelling vast distances to wash up here, in Whitstable.

Before buoyant oxygen bubbles of sargassum and earth’s atmosphere there was just bacteria. In a strange bending and spiralling of cyanobacteria, blue-green algae began to shape earth’s reality. Alchemy began in microscopic cells, the partial digestion of one cell by another to form a new body, endosymbiont, and photosynthesis was born. Strange spirals bubbling in earth’s primordial broth, eating sunlight and cooking earth’s atmosphere.

Step 3: Naturecultures

You will need:

Clouds that combine to make thunder and lightning.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

Everything is always in a process of becoming, transforming and being shaped through encounters. Listen to your heartbeat, become aware of your rib cage, feel your lungs widen and stretch the intercostal muscles between your bones, expanding into a giant whale skeleton on the bottom of the ocean floor, a feast for those inhabitants of the deep who have never seen sunlight. Your body is among the brittle stars and the sea cucumbers, the shrimp and the lantern fish, emitting their own lure for unsuspecting small fish, a phosphorescent glow. The ancient deposits of skeletons and microorganisms that fall to the ocean floor become buried in sediment, sinking down and becoming compressed over billions of years beneath the earth’s crust.

Deep sea drilling penetrates and awakens these carbon deposits, earth-baked bones and remains that have slumbered for so long erupt through pipelines. Blood mixes with oil spilled from these drills. At what cost are these ruptures made? The names of Hurricanes ring in my ears, resounding loudly amidst a din of drilling. Bodies of water must protect other bodies of water. Interlinked through forms of exploitation that do not care about ancient lineages. These lures for feeling run deep through rivers and oceans, bodies, trees and clouds. Clouds of carbon release at a rate that the oceans cannot swallow. Kelp tongues can’t keep the pace as acidity continues to rise, curling, burning under the weight of it. Outer layers of foraminifera and diatoms with calcium shells made of silica erode gradually, dissolving… they tell their story through disappearance.

Step 4: Chaos theory

You will need:

Butterflies that flaps their wings and cause Hurricanes.
Bats that flap and cause Tsunamis.
Echolocation.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

The reverse equation of photosynthesis is respiration. To breathe out heavily on a cold day makes a small cloud. A microclimate.

There is a thickness in this form of exhalation. An inner fog is rendered palpable by the air temperature, released into the atmosphere like thought bubbles of conscious breathing. The air is different here. Exhale slowly. A small cloud of water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Consciousness and climate are choreographies of carbon. Changing configurations transform into clouds. What type of cloud is consciousness? Stratus. Ones that sometimes thunder and lightning. Crackling in a glow that extends beyond worlds. The effects of human consumption on the planet cast dark clouds, both tangible and toxic.

Who thrives in these climes? Some forms of life proliferate- blooms of algae and jellyfish - creatures that are also bio-indicators, adaptors, survivors. What speak recipes of earthly survival, eating bodies cultivated for the sole reason of consumption? What is the next story of extinction? Thoughts are already within nature’s own cooking. Plastid cells metabolizing sunlight and lightning striking like a clock that says time’s up humans- does this thought chime well here? Fire and fury within nature as part of earthly cooking of carbon existed long before humans fanned the fire. Lava speaks the volcano, stomach full of bats, breathing flames.

Step 5: Climates of Consciousness

You will need:

To breathe out a small cloud of fog and watch it rain.

Cooking Tip: Breathe deeply. Consider- how do bubbles of breath speak this brew into being?

To speak in nonhuman tongues requires deep listening, attunement to more than one sense, perhaps infrasound and echolocation might be better tools to resonate inside human ribcages and intestines.

I think about my tongue and ask you to do the same, this slimy, slippery organ of sensorial transmission. The strongest muscle in the body. Umbilically linking sensations of touching as tasting. Touch and taste are one and the same except the point of contact mostly happens inside the mouth. To fully commit our tongues to contact with nonhuman encounters perhaps we must place them in more unfamiliar territory? This conduit to the outside world speaks in collective climates of consciousness through clouds of exchange. Lightning, radar and tentacle tongues extend towards the ocean, interlinking and inter-licking between seaweed tendrils and other tentacular threads, weaving inside and outside in forms of slippery suggestion.

The human mouth denatures through saliva. A breakdown occurs beyond our teeth that is chemically produced, starting what our gut bacteria will finish. Speech becomes sensation. De-naturing occurs through human mouths. There are no words for nature to be conjured by these tongues, they must be spoken in other ways for true communion to occur. Embodied and encountered in altered states of conscious perception and through movement that takes us beyond the limits of human form. Tongue-tied we are bound together. Another fold in multispecies recipe-writing becomes a form of speaking out-loud, with other tongues.

Mouth denatures. Speak seaweed tongues.

Taste tongues. Speak seaweed.

Taste denatures speak tongues.

Seaweed mouths: taste denatures.

Sea speaks.

Step 6: Speak Sea

The audience were then invited to create their own diffractive recipe from the assemblage of ingredients, methods and cooks around the room and outside.

Continue ruminating and collectively cooking. Digest slowly.

Serving suggestion: Offer your tongue to the ocean