CV: We are Human Beans. I’m Chris…
MC: I’m Mickael
CV: …and we are five this week, did you realise? Five years old. Your Grandmother’s special recipe – who’s going to volunteer their Grandmother’s special recipe? [Apple Crumble] That’s a good one. Anybody else? [Soda Bread] That sounds good. [Rice Pudding] Over the last month or so we’ve been filming and editing the Grandmothers’ of Lancaster cooking their special recipes so we are going to kick off with a film of one of those Grandmothers – it’s about six and a half minutes and then we’ll come back and tell you more about it.
MC: Did you see the size of those scones? You could do the same at home. We didn’t try yet but we’ll try to imitate that at some point if we have a big enough oven. Our dream with this project is to actually manage to collect recipes from Grandmothers all around the world and create a video cookbook online of all their recipes and all their different ways. The thing with those recipes and Grandmothers is that you never know how much you should put in the bowl; you never know what quantities they are, you don’t really have any reference points because they have done it for so many years now that they just know. They don’t really measure anything, they just throw it in and it turns out right. Hence the idea of actually filming it so that you can just replicate exactly what they are doing. They have been doing that stuff for many years and gradually the recipes became their own thing. They became their own personal recipe they are not really sometimes even that traditional any more although they still have the traditional name. That is why we had to go in their own kitchen and we had to collect the real stuff. Imagine now if we can put this online and you can go inside those kitchens and really find out how people really do things and how people really live. This is the obvious benefit of this project I suppose is that you get this knowledge that our Grandma’s guard in their kitchens. The other thing is you get the opportunity to connect with a generation that you do not often get to connect with outside your own family. The nice thing in this is that we can provide a way to connect - an interface for people to connect with an older generation. Chris is going to tell us a little bit now about what we have done in the past and how that connects with this new project.
CV: First of all what I wanted to say at the top was thank you to Fast-uk and to folly for giving us the opportunity to get this project off the ground. It is something we’d been talking about for a couple of years and this is the opportunity to get it going. So I’m going to show you some of the things that they probably thought that they were getting when they asked us to do this work.
So that is Karmaphone [video]. Karmaphone is a phone that through karmic vibrations that you can use to control your mood. This is one of our series of fictional products that we did that are also represented as short, little films that we did on the theme of well-being. These projects are really about creating (Karmaphone in particular) a critique of what might be done with technology and the market’s blind faith in the possibilities of technology. What we wanted to do with this project was something different actually. We wanted to see what we could do with existing technologies: with the stuff that everybody owns. The stuff that is in mass ownership and rather than create a critique, create something that is more constructive and see if we could create a product that could be made by people themselves. Technologies that were once bleeding edge and in the domain of professionals are becoming, or have become in some instances, commonplace and affordable. So if you think of home video making that is one example, photography would be another.
The democratisation of these technologies leads to the generation of new cultural literacy’s. So I guess what we were trying to in this project was to connect the popular literacy of cooking with the popular literacy of home video making. The first home video recorder came out in the 1980s and now if you think about it you can not only edit and direct your own movies but also through things like YouTube™ distribute your own movies. That is a significant step that now you are in charge of distribution, you can literally as YouTube’s strapline says "Broadcast Yourself". These sites are really growing they are the fastest growing sites on the web – and yes TV programmes use them to syndicate their programmes and brands come and use them for viral marketing. But by far the biggest bit of content on there is generated by users themselves. This has led to the creation of new genres which are quite interesting. There is ‘drunk lip-synching’ that is two girls, usually two girls that come home late at night in front of their webcam and film themselves singing along to their favourite tunes. This [slide] is the ‘Urban Ninja’ this is a twenty to thirty something male that dresses in black, goes out into the park and jumps out on people. I don’t really know the origins of this, somebody might know – I see some smirks – maybe it was you that started it but this stuff has been copied loads of times. People have put these ideas out there and people have copied it and we just wanted to see if we could do anything in that space. Of course the most infamous genre to be created through this is ‘Happy Slapping’ where a gang of youths gang up on somebody in a car park and video themselves beating somebody up.
We wanted to create the idea of the ‘Grandma Recipe’ as a new kind of mass documentary clip and through this project catalyse that happening. All we’ve done here is give form to an idea – it’s not a radical idea – you might video your Grandmother cooking her speciality recipe but we’ve given form to it and we are asking people to submit their own Grandma’s through whatscookinggrandma.net and really we are trying build something that capitalises on people’s desire to put a bit of themselves out there. We were debating earlier whether that is a new phenomenon that people wanted to share and make their lives more public or whether it is something old. That’s what we’ve done.
MC: It is really difficult to gauge if these people are doing it because they can or because everybody wants to put themselves out on show – some people make music, some people make other things but now you can actually distribute it more widely. So something happens now – and why and what exactly is another problem. So this [slide] is Nannie Webb this is our Grandma 00 – the first submission to the website so appropriately named Nannie Webb we will carry on promoting this, we will exhibit it in other places, we will use and are already using radio, newspapers, the web, TV to expand this. So from this idea and this three page website we are going to create something that will have the platform and the ability to grow a lot bigger. Together with that we also work on other products and services and other things that can exist just as messages or as actual commercial things. We like them to stay as messages because then they remain in the ownership of the people. So these [slide] for example are in the show at CityLab and this is a Grandma Player – your Grandma can record herself cooking something that you particularly like, close the jar, give it to you and then in turn you can play it back on your kitchen top and do exactly what she says. So that is one more chance to get it right.
CV: This is an audio only player of your Grandma – and if you go to the show you will be able to hear it. It is Sonia who you saw earlier cooking Lancashire Hot Pot cooking her Leek and Potato Soup.
MC: So besides that we have services as well such as ‘Rent a Grandma’ you can ask your Grandma to come to your house and show you how to do it. We have things like ‘Put Grandma in the Menu at a Restaurant’ so that would be a chef that takes on a recipe from Nannie Webb down the road who can do this particular thing really well and anybody who comes to the restaurant can have that.
CV: So just to finish off, what we are trying to do is stimulate people to start contributing to this website through YouTube™ and then we’re going to take the content from this and try and build new products, services, emotions, ideas around that. That is where you can submit your Soda Bread or Apple Crumble we’d love to see your videos up there and you can see more of our fictional products and other work at humanbeans.net