“There is something about how it's kind of ugly and sticky and misshapen and almost banal and obtuse. Or obstinate - it doesn't care about what I want, it is just a lump. Obstinate Lump.” - email exchange between artists
Dough resists neatness and control, an aesthetic of the unmade, lumpen and formless. It is an unwieldy mass that provides a physical confrontation with intractable matter. This stuff is not fluid, it is a sticking point for the mind to flow around, and as such acts as a provocative anchor to the mess of the world. Dough is an obstinate medium – it can be anti-architectural and anti-design in its production of form.
We aim to exploit the alien qualities of bread dough to produce sculptural objects, and experiment with the structural and load-bearing capacities of bread dough. Dough as a medium is cheap, living, biodegradable, employs chance, is edible, non-toxic, expands and smells good. This residency will be an opportunity to work intensively with bread dough as a medium. Experimenting with the limits of dough, how it can be supported by metal (tins and trays) to build up sculptural forms, how the dough is produced (wild vs. commercial yeast) and what mixtures work best for making these kinds of structures.
Microresidency by Bridget Currie and Chloe Langford
Today was the first day of Chloe Langford and my microresidency at FoAM. A definite highlight was being given about 22 kg finest semolina duro flour by the fantabulous La Belle équipe pizza restaurant. We are still trying to source a large oven in the canal/st Catherine area of Brussels.
other thoughts from today:
From Chloe Langford, a quote:
My ancestors took what they had, which was nothing, and left their routines as slaves in Egypt to follow Moses into the desert in search of the promised land. For forty years they wandered through sand. At nights they rested where they could, against the dunes that had been built up by the winds. Waking the next morning, they took the flour from their sacks and moistened it with their spit and beat together a smooth dough, then set off, stooped, across the sand, the dough spread across their backs. It mingled with the salt of their sweat and hardened in the sun, and this is what they had for lunch. Some people spread the dough flat, and that dough became matzo. Others rolled tubes and fastened the ends, and those people ate bagels
'How a person should be', Sheila Heti
friday night dough http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnOxfT6E_Bk&feature=youtu.be
Chloe arrives today on the bus, 6AM from Berlin.
Used the oldBread starter, My starter and Maja's starter that had proved overnight. Made a commercial yeast and hybrid mycellium+yeast culture dough.
The Day of Experiments - Things of interest: - Skin that forms on dough, both as a sponge and as a kneaded lump - Wet dough breaking through the skin - Contrast between smooth areas and rough, expanded or broken surfaces. - Smooth areas can be made through contact with a smooth surface (silicone, metal) or made through wetting the surface and smoothing out. - Cutting the dough. Cutting the baked bread or cutting the dough though with gravity, string. The geometric cut surface as juxtaposed with the blobby amorphousness of dough shape. Pulled apart through gravity, using the weight of dough to press it against a sharp or thin object (metal, fold, string etc). - Allowing dough to slide and decompose through gravity. - Enjoying fragility, breaking apart, balance, seepage. Breathing alive blobs.
We also talked about matter. The feeling of craving matter, because so many important, heavy things exist digitally and have very little matter. How tactile activities are such a relief. Also the alien-ness of matter - the way the physicality of things somehow doesn't stop surprising you.
The doughs we've been making are funny - both rising and falling at the same time. We've been watching them slide and creep down surfaces and try to fight gravity with elasticity. As they slip down, you can hear tiny fibres breaking and snapping. When they are sitting in little round forms on the bench, they look like they are sleeping. Humming lumps.
“Fermented food is alive, it poetically brings to mind an animistic world where the air that we breath and the food that we eat is in constant movement.” Microcultures Zine, http://bbva.irational.org/microcultures/
Looking over our experiments of the day before, we decided on several aspects of the samples to push further. * Twin forms, either mirrored, companion or cut in half * draped dough and gravity. Either a relaxed, gentle draping or lying down or a more reluctant sliding slippage. We made several experiments with cloth supports, metal supports and dough sliding down inclined surfaces. We included grass and coconut matting fibres in dough to aid it resist breaking apart under gravity. * differences in surface (skin) and interior of dough forms, enhancing through glazes, colour, charring with blowtorch.
It has been very hot and we have experienced a few problems with the dough drying out quickly. There is a fine balance between dryness and flow in the dough textures.
We talked about a current feeling within art of returning to 'expression', rough paint, plaster and gestural surfaces. Is such a return possible in a non-ironic, non macho way? What we are doing does not feel like an attempt to externalise 'emotions' but an attempt at empathy with material.
we think of dough gradually flowing around one's ankles like a warm tide.
Research Gathering 6pm tonight! All welcome We will show our samples of sourdough baking experiments.
Spending today further experimenting, cleaning up and sorting the samples into some kind of order.
Why flour dough? why not some other material like clay if formal concerns are foregrounded? - Bread is a known substance that most people have a direct tactile experience of, and so have a frame of reference for. A visitor to the Research Gathering commented she liked the more 'bread like' samples, as they are familiar yet strange. We had previously noted that we liked the more unadulterated bread samples, that seemed to use dough and bread very much as themselves.
- history of dough and bread, anthropological perspective
- Starters as pets, seemed to interest people. The bubbly, smelly, alchemical nature of the starter cultures intrigued and engaged guests. The smell is an important aspect we would like to use in future works.
- A dough is alive, putting live things into the body is healthier. Capitalism sees everything as a dead product, draws borders and prices so requires stable products. Living wild cultures are a combination of different organisms that are in constant symbiosis, this is a different model for food, living etc.
- the Tactile qualities of dough, some people find it repulsive, some sensual and relaxing. Dough is a physically overwhelming material, to touch it is explicitly physical. Raw matter.
- motion of the dough resisting gravity, optimistic?
- a Guest mentioned exploding dough.
- a Guest mentioned Minakata Kumagusu and Slime moulds.
(blue map page insert here)
Mika Rottenburg 'Dough' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2rlnw21Wfg
Made video work with flowing alive dough and feet.