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MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries:
An action research project:

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How can discursive food design ignite cross-disciplinary creative collaborations by creating resonance from the common experience in the post-pandemic?

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This action research study is about exploring the use of discursive edible design in connecting creative practitioners to audiences across a variety of disciplines in the context of the post-pandemic. In this context, individuals have been disconnected from each other physically and emotionally for a period and have been reconnecting after the COVID-19 isolation.

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A research project by Cindy Ho Yee CHAN in 2021

Index: 

0. Welcome!

Thank you for coming to this place where I update my journey of Deep Food. 

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This page also serves as a learning journal of my study at MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries at Saint Martins, UAL. 

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I will be writing on the latest update on Deep Food's intervention at the same time as taking the above course. 

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The site will be posted in chronicle order, as such the latest update at the bottom. 

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Thank you in advance for your reading. 

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Cheers,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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1. The Late Kick off 

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Dear Deep Food,

 

I mark this date as the beginning of the Deep Food project at my Master of Arts study, hoping that I was able to begin this any earlier. 

 

As a beginning, I have the following ideas and plans that I am going to list as a brain dump:

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1. I need to consolidate a project rationale along the line of the interventions Deep Food has taken and will continue to take.

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2. As candid as I can be, the project is clearly about Depth (of information/ knowledge) and Food (and the edibles), as such, Deep Food, a topic that I have been exploring with my partner since 2018. 

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3. Some resources I already have on my hand:

-previous effort on the project

- a media interview response that I have written and captured Deep Food's Ideas. 

- Deep Food's previous interventions (reviews and reflections needed)

-some stakeholders contact I have accumulated from Deep Food's previous work

-an invitation from a media platform to write blog posts on design

-some good comments from my mentors and tutors (consolidation and reflection needed)

-previous research work on the philosophers' buns projects (not launched yet)

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The next steps:

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0.Write and reflect on the context of my situation and project development 

1. Draft the WWHWI (what why how what if ) today 

2. Gather a reference bibliography 

3. Stakeholder mapping and establishing contacts 

4. Draft learning agreements 

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In best companion,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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2. The Prologue

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Dear Deep Food,

 

I am writing to reflect on the context of my situation and project development. 

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Please find my previous presentation on the project - the change I want to see as above. 

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Context:

1. I have been working with the name of Deep Food since 2018, Deep Food has 12 projects launched so far. 

2. All past and current projects Deep Food are either a collaboration or a commission, that is, Deep Food never has a self-initiated project. 

3. I would like the MA AI project to be the first Deep Food self-initiative to deep dive into what means by Deep Food. 

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Comments from Unit 1 tutor George:

1. I need to identify the stakeholders of the project and listing out some possibility 

2. Since the combination of depth and food is new and abstract, I need to give example to picture what means by Deep Food. 

3. I need to identify any existing interventions that are in the same direction. 

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Reflection and the next move:

1. Steer the project away from news food to purely Deep Food 

2. Compile a report on current "Deep Food" practice and list stakeholder 

3. Define Deep Food more concisely. 

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Best,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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3. WHAT : Deep Food 

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Dear Deep Food,

 

I am writing to consolidate the "What" for Deep Food for the "What Why How What If" task. 

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Ever since humans began to eat and cook, food played an important role in human civilization. Food provides us with our necessary nutrition; we live on food; we hunt for food; we forage for food. It's not too exaggerated to say that food plays a role in our society and culture: food is around our religions, that food and eating are related to many of our rituals and beliefs; food is around our connectedness to nature: eating is literally how nature and our human body becomes one. Food is as political: that human civilizations proceed through food trading and the fight over resources.  Food is around even in gender issues, which is to hunt? Who is to forage? This question was almost the first gender-related question answered by our ancestor, which is fundamentally a gender-related question displayed through food and eating.

 

In short, food is almost inevitable in every sector of human living and being, and it has been playing a crucial role. As much as we humans still enjoy and rely on food, we hope the importance of food will only be explored in wider breadth and depth. 

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Seeing food as a medium is nothing new: from the first standing man started to have food intake to the extreme delicacy in haute cuisine that displayed culture, taste and class. The question is: how can we consciously take food for thought as a medium: appreciating that food is such a special medium that should be able to go beyond itself as some mere nutritious substance?  In Deep Food, we believe that the power of food as a medium can go beyond its taste, convenience, its origin and can be expanded consciously to the level of content and culture: that when we decide to eat, the question can go beyond: how fast is it? How tasty is it? How nutritious is it? How fair-traded is it? How authentic is it? We believe that it can be developed towards this question: How Deep is it? In terms of content and culture. 

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It could be best to illustrate that through an example of our project. Taking our project: Stone of Origin, as one example, it is a project that designed sandstone-sculpted tableware combined with dishes to create a set of fictional ancient creatures. The project aims to provoke its audience to perceive our everyday intake as food and an ancient creature that has taken millions of years to come to our table, as long as the atomic formation of stones. When our audience sees the food and tableware sculptures as creatures, they start imagining how these creatures have lived, how it would behave, how it evolves and how it is related to us and the world. Through that, we hope people would have a second thought about food origin, not only in the scope of food production or environmental point of views, but in terms of a more macroscopic view of the formation of any matter in our material world, and to appreciate and treasure food in this cosmic perspective. (image as above)

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In short: Food is a common language. Food is in our everyday life. Food as a language can spread messages and ideas towards eating. Food, as our everyday life, penetrate messages into our daily practice of consumption and intake. A marriage of food and message creates value for the social, environmental and economic aspect. Deep Food would like to explore this marriage by developing our knowledge of food and design.

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To put it simply, the definition of Deep Food can be concluded in the 6 x 6 model I created earlier for Deep Food's practice: 

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Deep Food is, therefore: Food that provides value on up to the above 6 aspects, through up to 6 layers of discursive means an edible experience.  

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Best,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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4. Why-Deep Food

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Dear Deep Food,

 

I am writing to consolidate the "Why" for Deep Food for the "What Why How What If" task.

 

Please find images of previous Deep Food interventions as above. 

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Context:

1. I am a graduate of Bachelor of Product Design 

2. I work with my partner Heinrik on Deep Food, who is also a product designer. 

3. Heinrik and I are making a living from Deep Food. 

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Why Deep Food is important and meaningful to me:

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Both our co-founders came from a background of design, in particular, product design, in which we have both worked for various brands in product and industrial design. With such a background we constantly apply our expertise in manipulating 3-dimensional medium into food. Both of us have an interest in expressing our ideas through discursive design, however, we found that there is little room to realize this passion given the high economic and environmental cost of developing industrial products. Meanwhile, Food is also in some sense a 3-dimensional medium, of course, on top of that it has one more dimension: taste, and comparatively the environmental cost of manipulating food as a medium is much lighter than that of mass-produced industrial design. As such, we experimented to apply our knowledge on product and 3-dimensional design into the field of food and edible experiences, and since then we have been fascinated by its possibility and versatility. As a tangible and edible medium, we have been finding food a very friendly medium in a sense that many people can easily find their association with food, as such through that we can communicate with them our messages through our designed edible experience. 

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Best,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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5. Deep Food?

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Dear Deep Food and its fellow tutors,

 

I am writing to consolidate my research question for the "What Why How What If" task.

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I have the following ideas to draft my research question:

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1. How can we consolidate knowledge on using edible experience as a discursive medium for creating immersive information transfer via food and eating in a more systematic way?

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2. How can we develop knowledge on deep food (the medium) for deep food (the experience) via deep food(the practice). 

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3. How can we communicate via eating experience for immersive information transfer and dialogue by experimental practice on food experience. 

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I would like to gather some comments and feedback here to further polish the question. 

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For fun, above are images of previous Deep Food concept ideas (not launched nor realised). 

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Best,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

13th May 2021 

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6. Deep Food's Readings

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Dear Deep Food,

 

Happy Monday! I am gathering a bibliography for Deep Food's next intervention today.

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I have the following articles, books on my reading list in different themes:

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1. Ideas on food and eating:

Marinetti, F. T. (1989). The Futurist Cookbook.

Stummerer, S., & Hablesreiter, M.  (2013). Eat Design.

Stummerer, S., & Hablesreiter, M.  (2020). Food Design Small

Stummerer, S., & Hablesreiter, M. (2009). Food Design XL.

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2. On food design:

M. Guixe. (2015) Food Designing. Corraini Edizioni

Vogelzang, M. (2008). Eat Love. Bis Publishers. Amsterdam. 

Zampollo, F. (2016). What is Food Design? The complete overview of all Food Design sub-disciplines and how they merge. Academia, https://www. academia. edu/30048438/What_is_Food_Design_The_complete_overview_of_all_Food_Design_sub-disciplines_and_how_they_merge. 

Zampollo, F. (2015). Welcome to food design. International Journal of Food Design

Zampollo, F. (2013). Introducing Food Design. In: Cleeren, S. & Smith, A. (Eds.) Food Inspires Design. Oostkamp, Belgium: Stichting Kunstboek.

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3. On Human-food-interaction:

Dolejšová, M. (2018). Edible speculations: Designing for human-food interaction (Doctoral dissertation, National University of Singapore (Singapore)).

Dolejšová, M. (2020). Edible speculations: designing everyday oracles for food futures. Global Discourse: An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs.

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4. On speculative and critical design, discourse and communications:

โ€‹Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. MIT press.

Malpass, M. (2017). Critical design in context: History, theory, and practices. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Ruiz, J. R. (2009). Sociological discourse analysis: Methods and logic. In Forum qualitative sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative social research (Vol. 10, No. 2).

โ€‹Shannon, C. E. (2001). A mathematical theory of communication. ACM SIGMOBILE mobile computing and communications review, 5(1), 3-55.

Tharp, B. M., & Tharp, S. M. (2013). Discursive design basics: Mode and audience. Nordes, 1(5).

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5. On food:

The School of Life. (2019). Thinking and Eating: Recipe to Nourish and Inspire. The School of Life. 

S. Q. Wang (2014). Food Player. Page One Publishing 

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Above are images of previous Deep Food reference ideas by fellow food design pioneers. 

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Best,

Cindy 

Cofounder at Deep Food 

17th May 2021 

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7. the Quest

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Dear Diana,

 

Nice to meet you! I am responding to your feedback on my project as below:

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1. What is it that I am wanted to discover or change via doing this project:

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I would like to explore how can we transform food and eating experience into a form of discursive design beyond the edibles for communication and discourse. 

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2. An example of an intervention that I found (as on the image above) 

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Conflict Kitchen: a restaurant that only serves the cuisine of countries in conflict with the United States. Conflict Kitchen was launched as a restaurant in Pittsburgh that galvanizes political awareness through food. 

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The Kitchen is an example of an intervention that promotes awareness and develops empathy for political conflicts between the U.S. and other countries through food experience.  

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โ€‹Reference link: https://www.conflictkitchen.org/about/

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3. The definition of Deep Food:

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Deep Food refers to food experiences that provoke critical discussions and reflection in areas that are extensive to the actual food substance consumed, including but not limited to the socio-cultural-political context of the edible experience.  

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Next Step:

Upon my question defined, I am going to explore the following to define the question:

1. What are the boundaries and facets of food and edible experience

2. What does it mean by discursive design

3. What are communication and discourse referring to

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I look forward to receiving your feedback on my response.

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Best,

Cindy 

Student, MAAI

Cofounder at Deep Food 

17th May 2021 

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8. Defining the Question

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Dear Deep Food,

 

Based on my question I drafted in my last post, I am trying to define the key terms on the questions to substantiate, 

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the question being:

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"I would like to explore how can we transform food and eating experience into a form of discursive design beyond the edibles for communication and discourse. "

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I am going to provide research evidence on the following: 

1. What are the boundaries and facets of food and edible experience

2. What does it mean by discursive design

3. What are critical debate and cultural discourse referring to

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1. The boundaries and facets of food and edible experience:

Zampollo (2013) categorized Food Design into sub-disciplines: Design with Food, Design for Food, Food Space Design or Interior Design for Food, FoodProduct Design, Design about Food, and finally, Eating Design. Other pioneers define food design as such, as quoted by Zampollo (2015):

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Food Design is the design (Gestaltung) of edible objects, this includes all processesÐ from the cultivation/breeding to the preparation of food - and all decisions that are taken to determine food as an object; more precisely the design of taste, consistency, texture, surface, the sound of chewing, smell and all other object properties.

Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter- Studio Honey and Bunny

Authors of Food Design XL (2010) and Eat Design (2013)

 

Food design is the design of food, which is thought, perceived, contextualized, ritualized, implemented and consumed as an object.

Martí Guixé

Generalist Designer

 

Food Design is part of a larger discipline I call Eating Design. Food Design is the actual and literal design of food where food, as matter and thus material, is being designed. This could be to enhance the eating experience, but it could also be to communicate an ideology or to fight food waste. Food design is an important part of Eating Design. Eating Design is the practice of designers working on the subject of food. The outcome is not necessarily the material of food. It can also be a system or a service. Eating design covers a large field connected to science, psychology, nature, culture and society.

Marije Vogelzang - Studio Marije Vogelzang
Eating Designer and Author of Eat Love (2008)

 

Through that, it could be concluded that food and eating experience is playing a crucial role in the discipline of food design. 

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In the first academic journal of food design, a range of definitions on food and eating experience, as in food and eating design, are explored by fellow food design practitioners and theorist, which included the following:

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the context of food: the social, historical, intellectual, and technological systems that shape the food

the visual, sensory aspect of food 

ingredients

recipe

preparation

packaging

presentation

instructions for storage

instructions for serving

the environment in which food is consumed
the tools used to store, prepare, cook, eat, transport and cleaning up the food

the way to dispose of food waste

the services, systems, and networks around food

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2. The Definitions of Discursive and Speculative Design 

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According to Tharp (2013), discursive design refers to the creation of utilitarian objects/services/interactions whose primary purpose is to communicate ideas—artefacts embedded with discourse. Whereas Speculative Design, according to Dunne (2013), is a practice of creating imaginative projections of alternate presents and possible futures using design representations and objects. 

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3. Communications and Discourse 

"From a sociological standpoint, discourse is defined as any practice by which individuals imbue reality with meaning. When defined in these terms, discourse is found in a wide range of forms. Indeed, any social practice from a dance, ritual or a piece of music to a job contract, myth or culinary custom can be analyzed discursively."  (Ruiz, 2009).

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"The word communication will be used here in a very broad sense to include all of the procedures by which one mind may affect another. This, of course, involves not only written and oral speech, but also music, the pictorial arts, the theatre, the ballet, and in fact all human behaviour." (Weaver and Shannon, 1964).

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Image courtesy Martí Guixé.

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Best,

Cindy 

Student, MAAI

Cofounder at Deep Food 

17th May 2021 

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9. What Why How What if

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Dear George,

 

Thank you for your feedback on my attempt on the WHAT and WHY and on defining the research question, I would like to response as follow :D

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1. On the WHY:

I agree that my current answer on the WHY section is very much personal or from the angle of the creator behind Deep Food: not so much from the angle of the 'outside' world, I guess I will further elaborate on that however I am not sure how much I need to support on the external need by data, especially given the intervention is not there yet: I feel like it becoming a question similar to whether the egg or the chicken exist first (not sure if this metaphor applies in english :P) I guess its feasible within this timeframe to do some stakeholder mapping or even user/participants interview. 

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2. On the HOW:

I think I haven't touch on the HOW yet- personally I found it somewhat confusing because my new tutor is telling me not to think on the intervention (or the HOW, as far as I can understand from my communication with her) before I can clearly define my research question, and meanwhile I have got the below issues with my question:

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3. On the Question:

"I would like to explore how can we transform food and eating experience into a form of discursive design beyond the edibles for communication and discourse."

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4. On format of this site and dis-linkage with deep food past work:

Totally agree that the site now is not at its best - I guess I would prioritise with my research tasks over the optimisation of the site functionality.

I will be aware of the distancing of Deep Food's past work with the current effort

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5. On what's next (comments most wanted here!) 

I have these following ideas over what could happen next:

1. more literature: reading on the key concepts on my research question 

2. probe the question by interviews: probing the research question to food design practitioners and general audience

3. probing projects: equivalent to early intervention I guess? - maybe I can do another brain-dump listing on that, i.e. answering the HOW 

4. answer the WHAT IF , and compile it to become my WWHWI draft as well as my learning agreement

5. redesigning this blog site for better facilitation 

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I guess this is how I would prioritise these:

-Over this weekend I have this live show with Deep Food happening - so I might just grab the opportunity to ask some simple question on Deep Food research proposal. 

-Listing out stakeholders (already been doing) and strategising my possible interaction with them 

-I hope to have the draft WWHWI by this Sunday 

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Thank you for reading and have a great day :D

Looking forward to your reply!

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Image above is Deep Food experimental dumplings project: much of a brain-dump on how dumplings can be varied in terms of their wrapping method!

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Best,

Cindy 

Student, MAAI

Cofounder at Deep Food 

19th May 2021 

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10. Some key questions 

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11. Some reflections 

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Dear Deep Food, 

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I am thinking out loud on those question I urge myself to think through while I proceed with the methodology in Applied Imagination:

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What is the best next action to create impact by Deep Food?

What is the best approach to realise Deep Food imagination?

What is the most important question for me to answer on my intervention at this moment?

What is the most urgent question that I have to find out for my action?

What is the most effective (urgent + important) question for Deep Food to ask/ seek answer on?

What is the essence of Applied Imagination and on what ground I am believing and adapting this methodology to Deep Food? 

Why is Action Research an approach for Deep Food after all

is this a question to ask or to test by action?!

What is the role and necessity of "problem" in action research? 

Can action research be realised without a "problem"? 

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Cindy 

19th May 2021

Dear Deep Food, 

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I am reflecting on you. 

Are you better described as - as in, more genuinely, less pretentiously- food for thought or in my most candid way of word play: food for tao

 

Would food for tao be demanding audience/user/stakeholder/participants too much effort on thinking that it does not worth?

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If food for tao is for myself: what exactly is tao? as much as, after my ten years of study in design: what the ____ is design? (according to one, "Design is a _____ making a." )  

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What the hell is design after all? Does that matter at all?

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And I guess, yes, design shapes culture. That is exactly why I found food design such an intriguing subject to play with.

 

I would like to, seriously, with as much rigour as within my ability, play with food for thought. 

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How should I reframe this in the ethos/pathos/logos of Applied Imagination? 

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I would like to explore how can we play with food for thought by food design practice for the advancement of culture? 

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Does that balance between being academic and being candid enough? 

Is academic and being candid and friendly mutually exclusive? 

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I allow myself to wander in these wonder....whilst keeping these principles and values as a compass:

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To be as civil and thoughtful as I can within human potential and limits. 

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Goodnight to you and to the world,

Cindy 

19th May 2021

12. Snail chart

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WhatsApp Image 2021-05-26 at 8.42.26 PM.

Dear Deep Food, 

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I created a snail chart for you as a reflection on my constructive process of applied imagination. The chart is as above. 

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I have a discussion with the class tutor Zuleika on the role of disruptive innovation/ process in the positive way of MAAI, I think I could be abstracting things too much here. My takeaway from the discussion is that regardless of being disruptive or not: like some times the creative process can be a mess and going into different direction, it is still part of a constructive process. 

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On a personal note I would love to have spent more time with you and my family if I am having this flexibility.

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Good day,

Cindy 

26th May 2021

13. Draft W-W-H-WI

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Dear Deep Food, 

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I was having some adjustment on scale of the research question based on my tutor's, Diana, advice that the research question has to be clearer and more specific. I agree with her that question should be specific to the time scale and contextual relevance to a more specific scenario, as such I am making some advancement to narrow and scale down (in terms of time scale) the project so that some intervention can be tested within the duration of the course. 

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Above note is my thinking process during the discussion I had with Diana ( it was almost a debate- but fun and fruitful at the end).

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the original version of the question:

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how can we transform food and eating experience into a form of discursive design beyond the edibles for communication and discourse.

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Comments were these academic terms are still unclear and people may misunderstand some terms. Also it is like a situation that is already happening for long: food being a communicative medium. And as such there was no explicit gap and need in this question. At the same time the stakeholder/ target audience/ the who, is not defined here at all.

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My response was that food as a medium has yet to be explored in a designer-ly way, as such the current emergence of food designers community. However, I was agreeing that the goal of communication and the "who" is undefined in the research question. 

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Looking back to this discussion two days ago, at this moment of writing, I think by then I only have identified a theme and its related issue and potential of development, not  formulating a clear research question yet. 

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As requested, in the tutorial I immediately started rephrasing the question as the below versions:

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How can food and eating experience become extra-edible to act as a discursive communication tool? (given that the designerly way of curating food experience is yet to be fully explored) 

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How can human-food-interaction becomes a means of communication and discourse for multi-sensory experience/ narrative/ dialogue. 

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Tutor comment was that it was just manipulation of language but not pushing the question to be clearer any further. 

Peer comments were that they were confused by the use of language, ( I guess especially with discourse- a word that comes from cultural studies) 

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I agree with both comment and at the same time feeling relieve that Diana was suggesting to stop playing with academic terms: this is such a relieve because I was worrying these terminology are all too stating the obvious in a pretentious and unnecessary way. I can finally reduce the use of jargon so that the communication can be clearer and easier to understand even for those not in an academic domain. 

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So that brings me to the realization that I need to time/contextually scale this research question in a more realistic way, that the original question was sounding like something I would need a decade just to be closer to the answer. 

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That leads me to asking myself a question: what is the most appropriate question to ask through and by food/eating now. 

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and therefore the next version of question:

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How can audience reflect/internalize on tao (as the ultimate question) through a eating experience that review their collective pandemic experience? 

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The next step I thought of was to brainstorm the most appropriate audience in the question: practically it can be creatives/ creatives in UK/ creatives in Hong Kong/ food creative. 

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there is a number of reason why I think creative can be the most appropriate audience:

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1. By job nature, creatives are a group of professionals who need and has the motivation to answer and respond to the current situation of the world, being political/ environmental/ medical/ social, because they are fundamentally change-makers and creators of the future. 

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2. A larger portion of creatives, compared to other career types, are self-employed or freelancers, which is likely to be affected by current situation more and being more fluctuate in terms of their life style and income. as such they are a group that needs to answer/ develop their own set of philosophy on uncontrollability and restraints arguably the most. 

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3. They are accessible for this project because Deep Food has long been engaging with a network of creatives. They are generally easier to embrace changes and new concepts. And they want to be empowered to make creation and changes too. 

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I then brainstormed the question further as 

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How can edible experience create reflection and exchange between independent creatives from different disciplines on the times. 

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My next question is that what is that specific "time" pf being that I want to highlight the most, as well as narrowing / defining better the group of creatives that I am observing. 

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Defining the times:

it could be

pandemic/

climate emergency/

energy crisis/

food crisis/ 

political conflict

 

there could be practical and fundamental advantage / disadvantage of choosing each options: I can map that out and compared over some criteria ( I need to figure out the appropriate criteria before I can carry out this analysis. Those criteria I can think of for now are:

 

1. How far is it beyond the predictable 

2. How feasible is it in the time/geographical scale

3. How specifically it can hit to my research question

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Defining the audience ( the reason of each proposal): 

creatives ( as list above)

creative manager (because they are more empowered plus having identity as a creative

executives (they are the one with the mist power and wealth)

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My action plan for the next step is as such:

0. draft with existing material the what why how what if

1. research question further development:  listing more existing options on the "time" (the when) and the "audience" (the who)

2. develop a criteria of evaluation on these options

3. document early intervention and record feedback from interviews: early intervention being deep food latest food event engaging 80+ audience on an immersive edible theater, analyzing insights from feedback

4. research planning to further investigate on the specific "time" and "audience" group, that is, defining the boundary of the testing ground of the project. 

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This is so late in Hong Kong...zzz

Best,

Cindy 

26th May 2021

14. Purpose chart

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Dear Deep Food, 

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Before I am drafting my initial what why how what if, I would like you to be reminded of this purpose chart I did at a research lab workshop Adam hosted earlier last term, I found this reminder to be a useful one for this moment. 

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Best,

Cindy 

26th May 2021

15. Draft WWHWI and 

learning agreement 

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Dear Deep Food, 

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I am trying to peek into the submission of final deliverable of my Unit 1 : project 6 and learning agreement...deadline tomorrow!

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What- Why- How- What if 

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What:

How can food experience guide creatives to be engaged with in-depth reflection on their creative responses towards the current partially uncontrollable context? 

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note: