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A Tasteful Experience

First shown in Italy earlier this year and most recently in London, the Magnum Infinity Pleasure Pod sees jellymongers Bompas and Parr explore how our reaction to pleasure has the power to shape our environment.

Our surroundings can impact our experience of what we eat; but what if what we eat has the power to change our surroundings? This was the question explored by food architects and installation artists Bompas and Parr in a recent project for icecream brand Magnum.

Icecream and neuroscience may seem like a tenuous combination, but the Magnum Infinity Pleasure Pod is the culmination of six months of research into pleasure perception in the brain, conducted by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr in collaboration with Dr Ben Seymour of London’s The Wellcome Trust.

Participants are given a Magnum and invited to enter the pod – realised in collaboration with production company Jotta and described by Bompas as a cross between “Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Snoop Dogg’s Sensual Seduction video” – where they watch their biological reaction to the experience projected around them in a digital animation.

“I was interested in how ... environments can be choreographed to enhance pleasure and enhance particular space,” Bompas explains. He cites research by John Edwards, lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, in which Edwards served the slimy chicken dish Chicken a la King in a variety of environments, from a local cafeteria to a high brow French restaurant.

“It looked at how the taste [of the dish] changes dramatically in each environment,” says Bompas. “[We thought] – wouldn’t it be fun if you had a dynamic environment that changed with pleasure and enhanced it?”

The Infinity Pod tracks reactions such as pulse, hearbeat, skin elasticity, skin tension, swallow reaction and basic facial expressions and turns them into code, which is analysed and used to generate a digital artwork that is projected onto the interior of the pod in a shifting kaleidoscope of form and colour.

“It’s effectively a mirror of you eating, but one that gives you constant information that you can see on-screen,” Bompas says. “It’s quite beautiful as well.”

Bompas sees the Infinity Pod – the first bio-responsive food installation – as a pathway toward further exploration into food, perception and experience.

“Perhaps ultimately you could see the food itself changing as you’re eating,” he says. With the development of three dimensional food printing technology and our grasp on nanotechnology ever-increasing, this vision, Bompas says, may not be so far off.

Bompas and Parr