The Art Assignment, my favorite educational Youtube channel, posted their last “assignment” video: Whitescapes. Artist Odili Donald Odita asked questions about what whiteness is (in both a color theory way and a construction-of-race way). While I watched the video I took photos of my work space: my walls, white board, plate, and even the Youtube background were all different shades of white (if white even has shades). As you can probably see on this blog, I have been doing a lot of photography for local live music; a crash course in color theory, since performances usually happen in low, artifically colored lights.
I took comparison photos of my white items as they originally appeared (in relative darkness), then with the flash, then with “lights on.” The blue tone of the computer screen stayed the most constant. The flash made my walls look almost rosy, the lamp light turned everything yellow. The blacks of the computer body, board frame, marker writing and tabletop were similarly challenged (but not as much).
The video touched on reality/naturalism a little bit… there are a lot of scary articles around about the effect of light bulbs and computer screens (and even carpented corners) on our psychology. I also keep getting questions about “natural” treatments for serious autoimmune conditions over on the EN advocacy blog (as if vitamin pills grew on trees, or could treat lupus). And I thought about the faux-natural sterile wood, desktop succulent aesthetic. And who profits from fads. It was a good exercise.
Yesterday marked the first “deadline” (I can’t even say it without adding scare quotes) over in our Extra Credit facebook group. We took a vote and decided to do Odili Donald Odita’s Whitescapes assignment, and have been posting what we’ve done over there.
What I especially appreciate about this particular response, is how easily the artist pivots from work/life/youtube, to making art. It’s not a hard and fast dividing line, but a simple “I am watching a video at my desk, and now I’m making art.” This is one reason why I like this particular assignment so much. It’s about art as part of your lived experience, and about the way you look at the world already around you.
My art assignment - Scramble Scrabble Dinner
TL;DR - People can surprise you. Fun games are fun games even without artistic context. You should totally do this assignment IT IS SO FUN.
Ever since I moved to this apartment 8 months ago, with my best friend, I wanted to do this assignment. The thought of us inviting all our friends for a cool dinner party seemed so appealing, even if I was hesitant about the artistic aspect of it. My roommate and I decided to make it a 2-dinner event - the first dinner will be cooked mostly by us, and in it we will play the game, and the second dinner will be the actual scramble scrabble dinner.
So each of us invited a few friends, and we made it happen.
The first meal was fun, but truly the most amazing thing about it was the scramble scrabble game.
As a person who came to this idea from an artistic point of view, I had my doubts about how people will react - some of the guests were art-oriented people, but a lot of them weren’t, and I was worried that the game wouldn’t work - that people won’t cooperate, that they will always go for the obvious, that they will be bored and not get the concept or enjoy it.
But it turns out, a fun game is a fun game, and it doesn’t matter which approach you take towards it. Though I’m sure many of our guests did not come to the game from an art perspective as I did, they had fun with it anyway, and even without being aware of it, we as a collective made this banal process of dinner planning (that 3 days before, to me and my roommate, was really irksome) into a game that was fun and creative and hilarious and intriguing. Everyone was so open-minded, so ready to challenge themselves and each other with crazy combinations, it was just amazing.
It took us about 3 month to find a suitable date for the second dinner, but eventually it happened. Probably since it has been so long since the game dinner happened, I started being doubtful again. That people won’t think about their dishes, won’t rise up to the challenge. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised. All our friends rose to the occasion with AMAZING dishes. Some super tasty, others more… experimental.
Before I describe the words and the dishes (there were a lot of them :P), I’ll say this - what I liked most about the dishes is the different ideas each of us had for the dish. If I had to think how I would go about making many of the dishes, I would probably make something really different than what my friends made, and I loved seeing how a word I thought was obvious for some specific use in the dish ended up having a completely different meaning than what I thought (For example, as a fan of spicy food, when the word ‘fire’ appeared in one of the dishes, I thought for sure it would be a spicy dish. But the fire ended up being part of the esthetic of the dish which was in fiery-red colors). The approach for the making of the dishes, too, was as light as the game itself. people took it to themselves to change and adjust and find their way to make the dish, and handled various cooking crisis situations in a much lighter way than a regular dinner party. The gamification of the event made it just a completely different experience than a regular dinner with friends.
People surprised me. I liked it a lot. This experience was so great and I can’t wait to find another chance to make another dinner with a different group of people and see the result.
Bar’s words were:
Bar made the most amazing roast beef I have eaten in my life, slow-cooked but rare in the center with kube on the side.
I made 3 dishes for this dinner, partly because some people had do cancel last minute, partly because I like to make it hard for myself sometimes. so the words for the first one were:
So I made a pretty decent warm salad of peppers and figs, fried in a sauce containing rose water, lemon and date honey (for the sake of our vegan guests).
My second dish was my favorite. it had the words:
*Labane (Strained yogurt)
I made an Indian dahl with an addition of mushrooms and sage, served with labane on sticks of malawach, it was so good I plan on making dahl a regular part of our cooking habits in this apartment.
My first choice of a dish, the only one I was originally planned to make, was my least favorite one. It had the words:
I tried to make a spicy banana pie with orange meringue shaped like an angel, but despite my greatest effort, it pretty much sucked, both in look and in taste. Though it was pretty hard for me to accept, I had fun planning and thinking how I should go about it.
Emily and Yohay’s words were:
They made pizza on a sweet bread pudding with mustard. This was one of the more experimental dishes, and I have no other word to describe it other than ‘interesting’. It wasn’t bad, just to be clear. It was just a really unusual combination of flavors, and I thought it was really cool.
Ksenia’s words were:
Ksenia made cocktails in jars with these ingridients, that were super fun to start the evening with.
Ayelet’s words were:
*Ktita (shnitzel in Hebrew)
She made a really good vegetarian chickpea shnitzel with lemon and a side of fries, and drew a chicken on the plate with ketchup.
Shlomi and Lior’s words were:
Shlomi and Lior made musley with honey-roasted nuts, and run with rose-colored berries on top, served with an American flag to represent the American diner.
My roommate Anna’s words were:
Anna made a lovely tiramisu that was better planned than executed, so the roll ended up being the shape of all the personal cups of tiramisu combined, and the bubbles ended up being a side of soap bubbles rather than a big caramel bubble that was planned but unfortunately did not come out as planned (Than is, it came out in pieces).
Shani’s words were:
Shani made wonderful hand-made vegetarian dumplings with fiery-red vegetable filling.
Lillia’s words were:
*Flathead grey mullet
*Latke (Potato pancake)
I Couldn’t eat Lilia’s dish of mussels, because I eat kosher and seafood isn’t really that, but It was very well liked among our other guests.
What an incredible, amazing feast!! Oh how I wish I could have been there to witness the Pizza / Beer / Pudding / Mustard dish in person. Your group did astounding work. This makes me want to do another Scramble Scrabble Dinner STAT.