Entering Surrealist Chili in a Chili Contest
So this was in 2018, but I think it's still kind of funny when I think back on it. A friend of mine hosts a yearly chili contest and at some point, we decided that it would be great to push the boundaries. We entered this:
and we provided a curator's note:
Untitled (Chili for a Contest)
Crock-Pot, faux fur, lobster, plastic capsules, kidney beans, plastic ants, paper
This object was created as an entry in a “chili contest” with only one rule: that the “chili must be served in a crock pot”.
Quoting Meret Oppenhiem’s Object (1936) as well as Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone (1936), the artist also obliquely refers to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) by entering an unorthodox, yet technically within-the-rules assemblage into an exhibition.
During a chili contest, this is also a participatory installation. as judges are invited to remove and open a plastic capsule to “sample” the chili. Each capsule contains kidney beans, as well as a small paper on which is printed an “automatic” recipe for chili. In a nod to the works of Félix González-Torres (whose installations were similarly “Untitled”), as the contest continues, the installation is diminished.
I wrote a small program that uses what would now be called "AI" but what was really just a markov chain to generate the recipes. The basic process was to download a bunch of chili recipes and break them into lists of ingredients and lists of single-sentence instructions. Then I downloaded some English translations of early Surrealist poetry, mostly by Andre Breton and broke that into sentences. One markov model was trained on the ingredients, and another on the instructions and the poetry. Get some output from one and some output from the other and soon enough you've got a Surrealist poetry recipe you can print out and stuff into those golden eggs.
BITTERLY WICKED GREEN CHILI
- 1/2 cups warm water overnight
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 cups boiling water overnight
- 1 small pearl onion, peeled
- One 15-ounce can tomato paste
- 4 cups warm water overnight
- 6 strips bacon, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons salt, soaked in water
- Salt and bones removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Make meek adjustments, contented with such random consolations as the players were gathering around a bowl of flaming punch, I asked a tree if it still had its red ribbon. Keep chiles submerged with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and let cool completely.
Mirrors write Goliath’s name upon my forehead, while the children are killed in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and thyme stems; add both leaves and stems to pot. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high.
Plants play games with a small bowl. Reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are almost fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Return to a simmer.
Serve to a medium bowl.
Links to References
- Meret Oppenheim's Object
- Salvador Dali's Lobster Phone