“Probing Food and Power with Robotized Spoonfuls of Edible Paste” presented by Szanto and Laroche


Session Title:

  • Critical Robotics

Presentation Title:

  • Probing Food and Power with Robotized Spoonfuls of Edible Paste




  • Food, technology, and humans are entangled in a set of complex relationships that both produce and resist systems of power. The specifics of these dynamics often remain hidden, whether in agroscience, cuisine, mobile apps, or other mediated contexts. In this paper, we present a reflexive analysis of Orchestrer la perte / Perpetual Demotion, a food-and-robotic art installation that demonstrates how putting food matter ‘where it doesn’t belong’ can reveal what often remains obscured in our bodies, digital realms, and other relational spaces. Conceived around the themes of domination and nurturing, OLP/PD features a feeding robot that delivers spoonfuls of edible paste to humans’ mouths, using facial-tracking technology. The work probes issues of mutual enslavement, deskilling, the loss of privacy, and the fear-risk-trust within eating. At a broader scale, OLP/PD also troubles food and safety policies, probes culinary authenticity and heritage, and heightens tensions relative to eating and bodily penetration. Drawing on our experiences, we show how digital-material art can illuminate a variety of ways in which dominance and power arise. We propose that this can help surface different and more equitable forms of interaction, whether among food, technology, and humans, or in the more abstract realms of power, culture, and ‘mattering.’