week 5 - hox zodiac & midterms

The first day of class during week 5, we had guest speaker Maryam Razi share her project HOX ZODIAC. She shared that she was exploring different options to make a game. Her zodiac wheel consisted of the following: pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, and dog. To play her game she explained that one would spin the wheel to land on the different animals. Although her game was still in prototype, together as a class we brainstormed different ideas for her game. She also shared the process of her font making that incorporated genes and different bones from the zodiac animals. In the picture below is her process, where she was able to develop the font through variations of testing.

She also shared that she had been in Turkey where she collaborated with a local chef to create dishes to serve to her artist friends. I found it very interesting how she wanted to incorporate the zodiac animal with the dishes and how all of the artist were able to share a sacred space together. I think her game has a lot of potential and I had heard someone in class bring up an important point of how the zodiac animals now are more focused on compatibility with one another instead of the meaning behind the animal.

 I find this interesting because since I am Chinese, when I do think of the zodiac, I remember the legend that my mom must have told me. According to the myths, the twelve animals were selected through a race. It was meant to create a time measurement and there would only be twelve winners. The animals had to cross a rapid current river and reach the finish line on the shore. According to legends, Rat got up very early and on his way to the gate he noticed a river where there was a swift current awaiting. Eager to cross, Rat noticed that Ox was crossing and jumped onto his ear. The Ox did not mind and continued crossing where Rat raced towards the palace of the Jade Emperor and won. Tiger and Rabbit came in third and fourth because they were both competitive. While, Dragon was fifth and Snake came after. Then Horse and Goat arrived, they were both kind and modest to let the other go first. The Emperor was said to see how polite they were and ranked them seventh and eighth. Monkey had fallen behind but jumped between the trees and stones to be ninth. Last were the Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The twelve animals became the guards of the Heavenly Gate.

After the presentation, we also discussed in class our midterms and our final project. I am working with Collette and Valentin because we were all fascinated by the topic of bread. We brainstormed different ideas, one involving scoring techniques in sour dough bread to create unique designs that even could represent a kind of language. When we discussed our ideas with Professor Vesna, she had suggested something to do with the zodiac, types of grain, and the symbol of bread and its meaning. During class, I had researched different tips for scoring bread, including the flour type having little effect on the scoring, hydration a key component where the bread had to be in-between 75-85%, the gluten development of the dough, and the perfect temperature to ensure that it would bake right. What I also discovered was the history behind scoring bread dated back to the 19th century, when a French scientist named Vaudry mentioned "breads with cuts on their surface" as an artful and scientific way for baking operations. 

When we met up in zoom again on Thursday to discuss and finalize our project. Professor Vesna had suggested watching the documentary on Netflix called Cooked, Air, Episode 1. It was a fascinating documentary that bread was a key component in life. Where bakers from all around the world, played a crucial role in communities because at the time there were only a few places to bake the bread. Additionally, the French Revolution is tied to bread, whenever shortages of bread occur, there always will be political unrest. The documentary also talked about how bread is mostly made up of air. I found it interesting that it also talked about how stripping and bleaching the grain takes out a lot of key nutrients that bread can provide. For example, wonder-bread is a kind of bread that supposedly was very bad. 

To end the class, we hopped in another zoom call and decided on working with different kinds of grain like corn, wheat, and barley and the intersection these grains have with one another. Creating a sort of diagram that connects all the ingredients with one another.