Alexandra Genis is an artist and the principal designer at TAS2R, a Food Design Studio in Berlin propagating Gastro-Intestinal Science-Fiction. She uses food as a biochemical and visual tool to transmit challenging ideas about ecology, innovation and science. Her projects seek to reframe human perception around what an edible substance is as well as challenge our consumption behaviors. In this episode, we look at the power of art and design to realize new possibilities.

  • 1:20 The Atoma project (see visual), turning individual molecules into spices
  • 5:20 The complexity of flavor and the limits of what we can taste
  • 12:40 The importance of artificial foods in a post-agricultural age
  • 25:30 Other design / art projects Alexandra’s worked on
  • 28:30 Vision for the future food system

This podcast was recorded live at the Future of Food Hackathon in Riga, Latvia and is supported by the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture. For more conversation, join our community on Instagram and hear more episodes at www.nordicfoodtech.io.

1:20 What is the Atoma project?

Flavor as we know it is 90% smell.

5:20 The complexity of flavor

24 molecules make us experience the taste of a strawberry, but none of those molecules alone taste like strawberry. It’s the combination.

8:25 Why don’t we taste all 11,000 molecules?

We can taste 11,000 molecules. Big industry works with 2-3,000. They are bound by consumer preferences, replicating flavors found in nature. It’s hard to introduce new flavors because people don’t have an emotional connection to them.

12:40  How is a strawberry field artificial?

We need to open up the idea of what agriculture. Post-agriculture food production is a theme that goes through my work

16:05  What challenges have you encountered around producing artificial foods?

I’m enabling people to lose their fears of artificiality and replace it with curiosity.

17:40  How does one grapple with the power of creating any food?

Note by note cooking looks at using each molecule individually to cook. It just goes to show that the knowledge of this method has been around for a long time. It didn’t start and it won’t end with me.

22:30  How could these new technologies bring us back to nature?

Instead of using the land for our basic needs, we can restore its biodiversity.

18:00  What do we need to be mindful of with these new technologies?

Every technology has a dark side.

25:30 What can we look forward from you in the future?

28:30  What will the future food system look like in 10-15 year?

The future will be plant based. We will be growing food sources that we didn’t use before – algae, fungi, bacteria – and using insects and GMOs more broadly thanks to DIY biology.  Everything will be broken down into its separate parts and put back into the food system.

31:00 What are we missing to make that vision a reality?

We will need more food designers and artists. We have challenges that we can solve better through opening up our minds and collaborating across disciplines together to see pathways that weren’t imaginable before.

32:15 What kind of collaborations are you looking for?

Startups, flavor, and fragrance companies.

33:00 What’s the best way for someone to get in touch?

Instagram!