What will be the future of food technology, and could a 15th century instrument help us to speculate on that future?
This is what Marketa Dolejšová, from the University of Aalto (Finland), proposes. She is the creator of the Food Tarot cards that present 22 tribes that could exist in the future, based on their diet, such as the Datavores who design their diets according to data that quantify their metabolic processes, the Genomic Fatalists who believe in DNA-based diet personalization and eat to feed, to some extent, their genes or Turing's Foodies, who like to cook their food in a smart kitchen, using cooking utensils and AI algorithms.
But this oracle not only seeks to guess the future, but also, as a tarot reader would actually do, interprets the present, imagining different interactions between people and food, as well as posing probable or improbable scenarios that the player would not have imagined.
The Food Tarot is inspired by the 22 major arcana of one of the oldest known tarots, that of Marseilles, from which almost all the others are derived and which includes philosophical and astronomical motifs embodied by elements such as The Priestess, The Devil, The Emperor or The Magician. Each symbolic element has been transferred to its version of this food tarot. For example, The Emperor, which symbolises the impulse to rule and control the world, has been transformed into the obsessive and controlling tribe of the Datavores. Or the card of The Wizard, which signifies the potential for transformation, has been converted into the tribe of the Food Gadgeteers, who experiment with 3D food printing to make ordinary food take on more spectacular forms.
This tarot is used between two people, like any other card reading, and between the two there is a conversation about what and how we will eat in the near future, even approaching limits such as ethical cannibalism, gastromasochism or intestinal gardening. Used in the context of workshops or meetings, after the reading the person who approaches this oracle is asked to write, draw or outline a scenario of the type "what if..." imagining that they are members of one of the tribes that has appeared in their reading. In that way, the player, so to speak, faces crucial dilemmas about their personal relationship with more or less, why not, possible futures.
Markéta Dolejšová, the designer of the Food Tarot, is a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Art, Design and Architecture at Aalto University. She is part of the CreaTures project of creative practices for a changing socio-ecological and sustainable future. Dolejová is a researcher in design related to food systems and socio-ecological sustainability who uses food as a starting point for critical thinking and as culturally diverse and sensorially rich design material.
She is also co-founder of several food and design research groups, including Feeding Food Futures, ALTTAB and Fermentation GutHub.
The Festival will have a private encounter using the Hackcamp format for a total of 30 people as well as a series of public conferences.