Today I presented my most recent MFA project for technology studio. I made buttermilk biscuits! Biscuits for a technology class you ask? For this assignment, we were to create a machine in the theme of Rube Goldburg, that communicated “hello” or another greeting, in at least 10 steps. Goldburg machines show up in cartoons and movies where crazy inventors make incredibly complicated machines to accomplish simple tasks, such as flipping on a light switch. Many times these machines are far more complicated than the simple act they’re designed to accomplish … I guess that’s the joke right?
Here are some examples of these machines:
My idea from the beginning was to create a machine that said hello “southern style.” As someone born and raised in the South, I’m used to people actually greeting each other, which NEVER happens here in NYC. In North Carolina, complete strangers smile at each other in the street, say things like excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry, etc. None of these things happen on a typical day here. Many in my studio class made awesomely complicated machines taking direct inspiration from the Goldburg machines, and my hat goes off to them. It’s clear they spent hours making a functioning machine, and most of them worked! Kudos to them! I had absolutely no interest in making a literal machine and felt I was onto something about how folks in the South use hello as an expression, and how that is visualized, or how could I replicate that expression.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately of home, growing up, family gatherings, etc. as I haven’t been home in months. I’ve been very nostalgic you might say. One thing that is always present in these memories is food. The first thing I do when I go home is make a stop at my favorite fast food joint Bojangles, for their famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. It’s comfort food to me, and I have so many great memories of going there, especially in high school and college. When I think of home, I miss things like fried chicken, fried okra, pork, turkey and gravy, deviled eggs … the list could go on and on …
Then it hit me, food is the perfect expression of hello, and a recipe, with all its ingredients and steps is an example of a machine. Biscuits are a great example of a Goldburg machine because they’re so damn complicated to make. Despite few ingredients and steps, it’s totally a learned tradition or skill how to make buttermilk biscuits. Everyone has a recipe they’re partial to, and everyone has an option on how the best biscuits are made. I really like that idea, and despite me following the recipe exactly, there is still a great chance for error. This morning I woke up and made two batches, and I actually had one of these errors. My first batch came out perfectly (see opening picture), I couldn’t have been happier. For the second batch, I used a different bag of flour (not self-rising I later realized), and the biscuits didn’t rise at all, and more resembled golden hockey pucks. I think in a way that perfectly illustrates what the project was trying to express, so I’m happy with that outcome.
Everyone loved the biscuits so that was a great relief. I designed a recipe booklet for the biscuits pictured below. I’m planning to make another batch on Thursday for my MFA Reviews, but this time with self-rising flour!