Museums as creative labs: 3D food printing inspired by culinary heritage in the context of makerspaces

Lightning Talk
Kaja Antlej, Angelina Russo, University of Canberra, Australia

Published paper: Museums as creative labs: 3D food printing inspired by culinary heritage in the context of makerspaces

In 2012 the Australian National Museum led a project called Urban Farming and the Agricultural Show which explored how agricultural shows, helped to shape understandings of the relationships between food, people and place. At the same time (2013) they released Food Stories, a program of digital content creation and publication which allowed audiences to share their food stories. Both initiatives represented a relatively traditional approach to the interpretation of food production and culinary heritage.

The introduction of 3D food printing brings another dimension to the curatorial and outreach endeavour. A 3D food printer is a special 3D printing system which enables the construction of parts using edible materials mainly from viscous materials (e.g. cheese, paté, dough, chocolate) and powdered substances (e.g. sugar).

In this paper we explore how a museum can be used as a laboratory for engaging audiences in new food production and resultant interpretations of culinary heritage. A traditional cuisine is a rich source of creativity, as evidenced through the recent 3D food printing projects. See ChefJet, Foodini, Bocusini, Pancake Bot, Barilla's 3D pasta printer at EXPO 2015 and many other initiatives. However, 3D food printing in a museum context has yet to be explored.

Additionally, the potential of 3D food printing for the creative reinterpretation of culinary heritage is discussed in a context of burgeoning makerspaces, many of which are located in community spaces and equipped with rudimentary digital fabrication facilities. We underpin our paper by considering the opportunities afforded museums to act as creative laboratories, providing makerspaces which engage audiences in digital fabrication with access to significantly more expensive highly specialised equipment such as 3D food printers. This premise is supported by cases from NEW INC, the New Museum (NY) museum-led incubator which demonstrate the potential for museums to act as laboratories.