Kitchen Lab 連歌 Renga!

Hi folks, in preparing and planning for the Kitchen Lab themed day of Oki Wonder Lab on Thursday April 2nd, I chatted with Marc & Ryu, and introduced to them an idea for dealing with remote, decentralised and distributed kitchen labs in the network. We can maybe test it on April 2nd, or even see it as an organisational strategy on other days, to overcome our separateness and also restrictions for going out and buying new things where we are.

My idea is have a live workshopology session, a kitchen recipe exchange session, based on the practice & traditions of 連歌 Renga (linked-verse poetry, which precedes Haiku tradition in Japan), the good old everyday life/ hacker tradition of ‘making do’ …(with what one has got, approximate)… We can’t/shouldn’t go out in Europe or USA or South Asia unnecessarily for shopping, if we even can due to COVID-19 shutdowns and curfews… So if the recipe needs XYZ, and we only have WYZ at home, then we make an experiment without X, but with W.

So, example, I start by joining the Kitchen Lab session remotely from Helsinki, suggesting we prepare to make Karjalan riisipiirakka, Karelian rice-pie(s), which needs porridge rice, rye flour, water, salt, butter… And all you have is sushi rice, buckwheat flower, water, salt, and mayonnaise… You can still make them in a new experimental recipe form. Some-else in Okinawa Kitchen Lab does the next link next, suggesting on the same day making seaweed salad mix to put on top of the pies, or instead of dough from grains, instead pie-bases made from Nato de Coca, or tapioca paper sheets… Next someone remote in Indonesia suggests to extract lactic acid extraction from fermented seaweed, etc. etc…

We try our best wherever we are. Obviously we are going to get stuff out that we don’t expect, but, “What happens in the process, stays in the process” xx

Here are some links to Wikipedia to learn more about Renga (sorry I can only add 1 link here):

I also back in 2015, wrote up and published on researchcatalogue my initial inspiration of Renga as applied to mobile media, way back in 2003-2004, which includes other proper references about the traditions and contemporary practice of Renga:



連歌は原則として複数の作者による連作によって展開する。具体的には、作者Bがbの句を詠む際に、作品としての一体感を保つために、直前に詠まれた句( 前句 と呼ぶ。仮にaとする)の内容を参看し、その情景や情趣、句境を踏まえて句を作る。前句aはもとよりB以外の作者(Aとする)の作品ではあるが、Bはaの立場に立って、そのポエジーを推測し、受け継がなければならない。また、場合によっては、次句を詠む予定である作者Cに対して、次の句がつけやすいように前句の作者Aが配慮することを求められる場合もある。すなわちBはbという句の作者ではあるが、bという句に対して十全にみずからの個性を発揮するのではなく、前句aや次句の作者Cに配慮しつつ、前後の流れに合致するように作品を作らなければならない。






Example)Let’s make Karjalan piirakka!

Q)How do you express the dish in text without using the proper nouns one of the main ingredients.

Shape, color, taste, etc., or through your free expression.

In my experience, when I lived in Germany I wanted to cook a special japanese cabbage dish but I didn’t find one like hardness and taste I imagined. I replaced the another vegetables or fruits.

Food and ingredients depend on local features, and many can be only reproduced there.

A) will prepare a new dish based on the recipe and taste expression excluding proper nouns.

What is important is not only the harmony between Q and A, but this is the point of Renka, There is no point in seeking too much harmony.

We can enjoy mutual development and the change.

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Preparing to make Karjalan Riisipiirakka (Karelian rice pies) or your local version of them, to start the Oki Wonder Kitchen Lab session on 2.4.2020.

Look here:

The night before: Boil your rice/grains/starchy vegetables, so that it/they dehydrate any excess water. It should be sticky and not wet, so only a bit moist. Imagine that it is a thick paste to put into the middle of very thin flat circles of dough, that you can ‘squdge/sqeeze’ together inwards with the pastry rim. This is like the secret trick that you might learn from a Finnish elder…

To make the filling, you can use rice porridge flakes, sushi rice, risotto, or some other grain that makes a paste (semolina, spelt, etc)… In Finnish supermarkets you can also get versions of them with mashed potato (potato flour), or mix of carrot and rice, so sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) or some other starchy tropical vegetable might also be nice…

You will need also a flour (rye, buckwheat, wholewheat, etc.), water, salt, and maybe something fatty to smear over them when the are hot out the oven. Butter is classic, but vege margarine, or ghee or whatever is good.

Hotplate & Oven! Baking Tray! Mixing bowl! Mixing spoon! Rolling pin (or bottle)! Circular cutting shape (cup, glass) to make circle from rolled out dough… Baking Paper or sheet! Pot to boil the rice/grains/starchy-vegetables.

And of course your hands, head to think, and a table to knead the dough into shape.

Andrew @agryfp_hack will be ready to start making the dough together with you at 1pm GMT+6 JST. (Okinawa time) / 7am GMT+3 EEST (Helsinki time)… Join us here on Pixelache’s Zoom ID:

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@Ryuoyama, I very much like the idea of not using proper nouns when describing one of the main ingredients. It adds a bit of fun to the remote kitchen experience :smiley:

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ok… i will try under an overdose of CO2 from the kilju making and Ozone from UV sterilization /merchandise making to have this robot cook rice…

Now pressing the golden button.

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Woke at 6am after 5hrs sleep. I make coffee, share with you my pre-set up situation, and will clean up now for next 30mins while you are eating lunch there in Okinawa x


Hi Andrew

Thanks a lot for the sharing by the kitchen idea, i think it was great and it’s inspiring. I am a supporter to this anti-nationality but i didn’t find a good way to conduct it, i always act grumpy when seeing people being nationalist or singular identity without knowing it. Your food performance explained it well that how cultures are formed relatively, I like it as its simple and soft and the little humor in it, good job!

Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 4.31.43 PM|690x480 !

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Thanks so much @weiweiweiwear for all these screengrab photos (documentation documentation documentation!) and also for your kind words about being an interested remote observer/contributor :slight_smile:

After the KitchenLab event and before writing the article on Oki Wonder FoodLabs, I sent @agryfp_hack a few questions. These are his raw answers, which he was also happy to share. Thanks, Andrew!

  • What are your post-event impressions of this atypically online session of KitchenLab?

The Kitchen Lab Renga session which I proposed for Oki Wonder Lab was an experiment in how to share individually isolated kitchen practices together with others. The paradoxical situation of doing something that cannot be tasted or smelled, but only seen, mimicked and narrated, according to traditional cooking videos and tutorial formats, was something to inspire and start our playful session together. Borrowing inspiration to Renga/Renka practice, we can use the spontaneity, improvisation, connective togetherness, to have some fun, but also hopefully address some of the issues of the moment. That we managed to keep the company of observers amused for a period of an hour, and experimented with transmitting the recipe online, how to use the camera, the down-time waiting, etc. suggested something successful. I was happy at the end of the process and day, albeit exhausted. It was a demanding performance of hospitality, cooking, and consideration of guests, as well as a dialogue between our two contexts of Helsinki and Okinawa, and between our [Marc Dusseiller & my] performed (for the audio-visual stream) artist-researcher, curious, hacker, kitchen mentalities.

  • How did you first come to be involved with Hackteria, and what are the crossovers with Pixelache?

I first met Marc Dusseiller in ISEA 2010, where he was a guest participant in a workshop myself and my Latvian Fellows Signe Pucena & Ugis Pucens, of SERDE Interdisciplinary Artist Group, where we were conducting, inviting the media artist & curator audience to take different documentation roles for recording the making of moonshine spirits, according to Soviet and post-Soviet DIY distilling tech, learned by SERDE a kitchen hack essentially, using bowls and pots and bags of ice. The following year Hackteria were invited to contribute to Pixelache Helsinki 2011 Festival, if I remember correctly by the Finnish Bioart Society, to make their signature webcam microscope workshop. There is also a long-standing friendship with Koelse Association for Experimental Electronics between both parties which smooths the collaborations along. Hence, Hackteria Network, and Marc particularly, have been a guest or contributors to Pixelache Festival on numerous occasions since, Rabbit Hunting for the Foodycle 2014 festival, and most recently in 2016 with the Empathetic Taxidermy workshop, or last year, 2019, most recently conducting a micro electronic-sound synthesizer workshop in the 8-bit Mixtape series. Marc and myself have had also, since 2011, had a remote sharing connection in each other’s processes. For example, my ‘Not Knowing Something’ workshop sent remotely to Maribor that same year on the topic of Workshopology, or tapping Birch Sap in the backyard forest of Rande Lab in North Switzerland, 2012, his physical presence turning up in time for opening and tasting barrels of 3-month old Sauerkraut in Pixelache’s Ferment Lab Strasbourg project, late June 2017. So yes, quite naturally there is a long history between Hackteria Network and Pixelache Festival, thanks often to the support of ProHelvetica Foundation.

  • You referenced renga, wabi sabi, “the Eurasian continent between us”… As someone with cultural connections in Scotland, Russia, Finland, etc., could you say a few words about your relationship or history with Japanese or Okinawan culture?

Certainly! In the start of the broadcast connection to Okinawa, I shared references, books and narratives which introduced the context of my connection to Japan, and my artist-organiser interest in intangible cultural heritage, although food crosses a line with the tangible and tastable also. I showed the books on my ‘kitchen book shelf’, which included two from the mid 1970s, The Book of Tofu, & The Book of Miso (W. Shurtleff & A. Aoyagi, Autumn Press, 1975 & 1981 respectively) which were recently gifted to me by an elder Dutch friend. However my first connections to Japan as inspiration date back to the mid 1990s, with my interest in Japanese woodcut printmaking, such as Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), and also Japanese Techno music, in particular Ken Ishii (1970-).

While reading Zen Buddhism books in the mid to late 90’s by famous translators of the tradition, Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki, I used to joke that while working in a Glasgow Brasserie-restaurant kitchen (the classic Cafe Gandolfi) during and after my art-school days, that I did the cold food plate preparation work over the weekends according to the ‘Zen of Salad Dressing’, basically throwing things together with ‘no-mind’. Humour aside, later when studying the Japanese intangible cultural heritage traditions of Haiku (K. Yasuda, Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature and History, Tuttle Publishing, 2001), I came across Renga/Renka as a practice, which I learned pre-dated the well-know Haiku format. The collaborative practice of linked-verse was inspiring to me as an example of live, contextual and collaborative ‘image sharing’ via spoken-word. I adapted this idea into a research and performance project in 2003 with Finnish colleagues at Media Lab Helsinki, called Rengo, which combined state-of-the-art mobile media messaging (and archiving) between a group of people’s mobile devices, and was presented in ISEA 2004 in Helsinki. Eventually, in 2015, I wrote up the story that is published on for artistic research. From the mobile media projects of the early 2000s, I met Professor Shin Mizukoshi of Tokyo University’s Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies. After 12 years of knowing each other, at long last, I had the chance, for 4 days only, to visit him in Tokyo in January 2016. So far that is my only visit to Japan.

As you highlighted, “the Eurasian Continent between us” is the huge landmass that is in the middle of our island archipelago cultures of origin, Scotland as part of Those Islands, sometimes referred to the British Isles, and the Japanese archipelago that stretches from the northern Sakhalin Island Arc down to the Ryukyu Island Arc that includes Okinawa. I have got to know the Western European side of the Eurasian landmass pretty well, but have less personal experience of the Eastern side, except what I can learn via books, media and, of course, topic of this interview/report, live internet connections :slight_smile: Conveniently Switzerland, Finland are cultural islands in between… Orientalist Poland (where I first saw the Japanese woodcuts first), the wide expanse of culture and science in Russia or middle-southern Siberia I have got to know in the past 15 years, where I have family connections and ancestorial learnings stretch my curiousities even further eastwards in migrant practice, and epistemological knowing from experience. The transience of the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, whereby we try to accept imperfection, and in the case of Hackteria, embrace messes, hacks, failures and joy in experimentation, can be borrowed, adopted, lived, and hopefully, radically, passed on and across generations.