Gastronomic diagrams bring an entirely new dimension to data analysis.
Data is a crucial tool for understanding the multiple languages, political ideologies, and social customs that stem from Spain’s geographic and demographic diversity. On June 10th, a group of twelve chefs and data visualizers gathered at a culinary workshop in Barcelona to develop a menu of edible infographics that visually represent Spain’s demographic data.
The four day workshop was hosted by Data Cuisine– an experimental research organization focusing on the representation of data with culinary means. Data Cuisine poses the questions:
How does a tortilla taste whose recipe is based on well-being data in Spain? Would you rather like a cake based on the science funding 2005 or in 2013? Can you imagine how a fish dish can represent the emigrants from Spain to countries across the world?
The first two afternoons of the event were focused on developing a methodology and creative strategies for displaying collected data. During the second part of the workshop, participants created their recipes and produced prototypes. The last day consisted of final preparation and tasting of all the dishes.
Popular spanish dishes were recreated to highlight the surrounding society. The Tortilla Feliz Catalana represents the state of well-being in Spain. Each layer represents a topic such as education, or life satisfaction. One tower represents the country’s scores in these topics, while the other signifies how citizens actually feel.
Others, like First Date Noodles and Unemployed Pan Con Tomate focus on more specific data points. The noodles represent the sexual activity of young people in Barcelona. Based on an informal Facebook interview conducted by one of the chefs, 86% of men and 59% of women have sex on the first date (visualized in the clustered noodles). The decorated toast is an edible graph– seasoned with different portions of garlic and tomato paste to signify the staggering rise in Spanish unemployment.
The theory behind the creations is rooted in various visual and culinary variables. The visual variables, such as lines and color, can be modified to express information in different ways. Culinary variables like ingredients, cooling temperature, and preparation temperature are a bit more complex and carry important cultural connotations.
While the cuisine may not be extremely delectable or filling, it nevertheless has the potential to have significant social implications. Could local cuisine be prepared in cities around the world to generate awareness for local social issues? Could an infographic dining environment be incorporated as well?
The opportunities are just waiting to be uncovered, as Data Cuisine plans to continue aggregating local data, sourcing local food, and employing local chefs in future workshops– anyone can participate.
Check out Data Cuisine’s list of data dishes to view and read about the rest of the creations.