Wednesday, March 2, 2011

F.A.T/LAB by Alejandro Casazi, Joel Chapman, and Christopher Jette, 2010

The F.A.T/Lab collective is an experiment in performance art that combines visuals, music, and a choreographed dining experience. Spearheaded by UCSB professor and recent graduate student, Alejandro Casazi, this work encompasses several mediums of art. The acronym stands for Food, Art, and Technology, a fitting name for this groundbreaking work of art that combines food scientist, Joel Chapman’s innovative work set to the soundtrack provided by Christopher Jette and enhanced by gorgeous and evocative digital images of prints done by Casazi.
The first experiment with this performance was held at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum on August 7th, 2010 for the public and a private reception followed on September 24th. There was an expensive ticket for the attendees of the private dinner, which were mostly donors and beneficiaries of the institution, as well as friends and supporters of the artists. A few lucky interns were chosen to act as severs for the esoteric, yet completely accessible, dining experience.
The entire meal had been choreographed before the diners had arrived. Each movement of the servers had been calculated and accounted for by the artists who controlled the event. Chapman controlled the taste aspect of the piece, while Jette told each server to match the start of the undulating, droning music and Casazi started a set of visual stimuli that went hand in hand with the course that would be enjoyed by the guests.
The courses were staged in a series of several different courses. Each element of food was plated with exact specifications by the Chef and presented in a synchronized fashion by the servers. The overwhelming visuals of the space enveloped the diners as they were instructed by Chapman to let the tastes of the food rest in their mouths. Casazi and Jette worked together to create an overwhelming visual-sensual experience that in combination with the food provided a new experience of the common, shared practice of eating. The artists attempted to deconstruct the norm of a shared meal by plating the food in different ways, providing guests with food like purple potato paper and shots of caviar and dill. All the while, Casazi and Jette worked harmoniously to transform the dining room into a work of art. A large projection of digital images set the backdrop for the scene and the music was reminiscent of John Cage minimalism.
The artists sought to form a new context for dining with friends by overwhelming their guests with aesthetics and succulent food. The work puts the viewers in control—their experience defines the success of the work itself. If they were overwhelmed and excited by the food, visuals and music then the artists did their job right.
Casazi is originally from Bogota, Columbia and was just recently married last summer. He works as a lecturer at UCSB and graduated from their MFA program in 2009. He is a multi-disciplinary artist with works spanning from video, installation, collaborative, sculpture to printmaking, sounds, and photography. He often deals with themes relating to humanity—trying to understand the relationship of the whole to its parts. Chapman works as an executive chef and food scientist and graduated at the top of his class from Le Cordon Bleu. Jette is a renowned composer and collaborator with visual artists. His work seeks to transcend the temporal experiences of humanity to that of the ephemeral.

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