The oldest recipes of the world or the beauty of tradition
The oldest recipes of the world or the beauty of tradition is an installation as part of the exhibition 'I cook therefore I am' of guest curator Abdelkader Benali in Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. A project of Studio Maaike Roozenburg in collaboration with Zcene Moving Media, Yale University, New Haven, Delft Technical University, Leiden University and Maher Al Sabbagh. An installation on the intersection of heritage, design and emerging technologies in which 3D digitalization, video mapping, cuneiform, 3D prototyping and culinary tradition meet.
Three cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia form the oldest written source of culinary culture in the world. Excavated in present-day Iraq and Syria, they are now part of the Yale Babylonian Collection, New Haven U.S. These tablets of unfired clay are almost 4000 years old, damaged and extremely delicate. This makes them unfit to be accessible for a broad public or travel to The Netherlands for this exhibition.
3D prototyping are emerging technologies that offer new possibilities to render physical objects into digital data and vise versa, such as 3D-scanning and -printing. By using 3D scanning technology we were able to bring the cuneiform tablets outside the walls of the Yale Babylonian Collection and into the exhibition of the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. But besides this we where able to investigate the meaning of these objects for us here and now and share this with the visitor and the public. 3D prototyping technology was the means to this coal. We transferred the digital data of the cuneiform tablet into a physical object by 3D printing to hold and to be touched. By CNC milling we made an enlarged tablet in a specific kind of foam ideal for video projection.
In collaboration with chef Maher Al Sabbagh we looked for the traces of these 4000 year old recipes in contemporary cooking in the Middle East. Al Sabbagh, born in Damascus and living in Rotterdam brought with him to The Netherlands his extensive knowledge of preparing food. We selected three recipes now still popular in the Middle East, descendants so to speak of three recipes described on the Mesopotamian tablets. Recipes that are being prepared, altered and refined for ages manifesting the beauty of tradition. On film we documented ingredients, dishes and the process of preparing them.
The archeologists and researchers of Leiden University have an extensive collection of objects native to the Middle East. Among them cooking utensils from the Mesopotamian era excavated in Syria and Iraq: a cooking pot, grinding stone and bowl with traces of garlic. Objects mentioned in the recipes on the cuneiform tablets and kept by our team on film.
Blend together in an installation all these elements make the oldest recipes of the world tactile again and link present day culinary culture to its origin. In a broader perspective it touches on the phenomenon of culture as a process in which migration of people, objects and ideas play an important role.
De exhibition 'I cook therefore I am' will be on show at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, The Netherlands between February 10th till July 30th 2017.
with special thanks to: Agnete Wisti Lassen, Associate Curator Yale Babylonian Collection. Chelsea Alene Graham, Digital Imaging Specialist, Digitization Lab, Yale University. Alexandra Gaba-Van Dongen, Curator Exhibitions, Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. Eckart Frahm, Professor of Assyriology at Yale University. Jouke Verlinden, Applied Lab, Delft Technical University. Roel Franken, CNC milling expert, Delft Technical University. Joanita Vroom, Archeologist Leiden University. Bram Verlaan and Jan Willem van Bloemendaal, Zcene moving media. Samir den Haan, Omar Al-Ouf, Meyam Ajari, Jana Sinitsova, students Delft Technical University.