Sunday, October 7, 2012

the medium's the message

  October pst wherein I report on the meal I made for the poetrysciencetalk: 
poet Gerd Stern with Huey P. Newton
Beat-poet multi-media artist Gerd Stern showed three videos shot in 1973. Gerd has a crateful of tapes made using the early Portapack; a portable video recorder that opened the floodgate to mobile documentation and on the spot video art (legend has it that Gerd went shopping with Nam Jun Paik on Canal St. on the very first day the portapacks went on sale!) At this months’ pst he was celebrating having a few of these tapes digitized (a costly and painstaking process of actually ‘baking’ the sticky oxide layers of old tape so that they can be unraveled and reprocessed. This is being undertaken at ZKM, the Center for Art and Media at Karlsruhe, Germany, in their Laboratory for the Restoration of Antique Video. They’re doing this work in exchange for copies of these historical tapes for their archives.) 

Gerd showed three tapes of conversations with now deceased friends: media theorist Marshal McLuhan, activist and Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton, and anthropologist Edward T. Hall.   Wow! McLuhan was visionary in describing what we now experience living in the World Wide Web, and Newton was vibrantly eloquent, as vital today as then. It's a given our life experience is mediated, what is still a struggle though is by whom and how these experiences are distributed and controlled, and this is what Newton was talking about in the tape Gerd made.

Over the years I’ve had a share of fantasies about making food videos, imagining real time visuals with alluring background banter, but despite increasing demand for food writers to diversify from print (hence blogging, you-tubes, radio) I’ve resisted adding to the plethora of skewed cookie-cutter food-network knock-offs.  Alas, put a camera in my hands and I freeze. This is not because of a Luddite soul, or because watching, as opposed to engaging in real-time live-action can be painfully tedious. It is because videography, like any other creative venture takes skill and practice and the expectation that you can pick up a camera and be good to go seems pure arrogance.

Still, in celebration of Gerd’s presentation I decided a bit of videoed real-time cooking uploaded to you-tube and shared on my iphone would be a welcome ingredient in the evening’s menu. 

buffet offering: iphone you-tube on a plate

Using recipes inspired from Moosewood and channeling memories of meals at Food 
                     I served a vegetarian mushroom barley soup. 
A foraging friend found this amazing chicken mushroom in Prospect Park,
which I carefully washed, picking off dry leaves and blades of grass
the fungi had grown around.  Sauteed in high heat with butter
and a fair dousing of booze, it was added to the soup.

Also whole grain breads with runny cheese (I served Ribiola Bosina, a mixed milk cheese in place of Brie, which was just becoming popular at the time Gerd's videos were made) and a salad of shredded Romaine, kale (probably should've used red cabbage... did anyone eat kale back in the 70's?) and sprouts with tahini dressing, followed by apple crisp with whole grain crumble and vanilla ice cream.

No one really looked at my video…  it was enough the iphone was there... the medium became the message.

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