Lucas Lejeune is a multidisciplinary new technology artist born in Strasbourg in 1991 whose main mission is to propose creative ways of emancipation in the face of societal automation. He specializes in installation and performance art and works in particular on the issues of animal intelligence and artificial imagination. His works are the result of his own language systems, which allow him to speak differently about bodies, territories, memories, and collective identities. His artistic practice does not stop there, as he has also been interested in the techno scene as a field of experimentation. He is particularly interested in spatialized video mapping and real-time video flow control. This allowed him to participate in dozens of events in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Hungary. In addition to his talent, Lucas owes the diversity of his skills to his studies, as he holds a DNAP from the HEAR in Strasbourg and concluded his studies at the ERG in Brussels with a Master’s degree obtained with distinction from the jury. At the end of his studies, he continued to explore the new modes of writing and reading offered by new technologies. He is also a motion designer and has been a laureate of the Ateliers Médicis, RECIT, and the Kiwanis Club.
This piece aims at visually representing the inner experience of tasting seven traditional French cheeses, in the following order, from weakest to strongest : 1. Chèvre frais 2. Brebis estive 3. Comté 28 mois 4. Munster fermier 5. Bûche de chèvre affinée 6. Camembert de Normandie 7. Roquefort The core idea is to bridge an ancestral understanding of the human inner experience of being, with the most recent science regarding olfactive and gustative perception.
Most myths and religions interpret the cosmos as being formed of two opposite elements, Heaven and Earth. In that context, Heaven shouldn’t simply be understood as the outer atmosphere, nor the Earth as the planet itself. Rather, Earth seems to often stand for the material world itself, all things that can be perceived through the senses. Heaven, on the other hand, stands for the immaterial, conceptual, intellectual, abstract, and theoretical (language, emotions, identity). It is by unifying these two principles that reality itself is perceived, or created. Hence, joining Heaven and Earth equals identifying and assigning function to physical concrete things, which is, ultimately, what most human beings spend their time doing during their lives. So, how’s that related to cheese tasting?
In the tasting experience, two main senses are stimulated and merge to form the experience of the taster. The specific profile of cheese is mainly defined both by its savors (sense of taste), and its aromas (sense of smell).
Science teaches us that taste is perceived by the absorption of physical particles carried in the saliva, downward through the tastebuds of the tongue. The distinction that can be made in that regard, between different savors, is quite limited, as we only perceive four (or five) of them: saltiness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness (and umami). Smell, on the other hand, is way more subtle and mysterious. First of all, when tasting a cheese, retro-olfaction pulls the odor molecules upward in the air, from inside the mouth into the nasal cavity. The human nose is then able to perceive one trillion different smells, while only having around 144 receptors, and there exist only 128 odor different molecules. At the current state of research, scientists claim that a quantum process is at stake, the same molecules being able to vibrate at the subatomic level to deliver various olfactive experiences.
In the context of this project, the sense of taste represents the Earth (concrete, organic, physical), and the sense of smell represents Heaven (abstract, aerial, subtle).
In the center of the screen, the earthly shape is inspired as much by the anatomical shape of the taste bud, as by the mandorla, an almond-like geometric shape that is often found in traditional images and architecture, as a frame where to display sacred characters, deities, saints or various mythological figures. Its general aesthetic is inspired by concrete, material structures, organic shapes made of basic geometry, elementary blocks of matter, crystals or molecules, and micro-organisms, but also those of a human body seen through X-rays, a skeleton, or spine. It can evoke a tongue, a mouth, some other organ, or a snake. It unfolds from top to bottom and is an incarnate, fertilizing motion. As for the texture itself, it is inspired by various scientific studies about the visual correlation between taste and shapes. Saltiness is square, sweetness is round, sourness is convex, pointy, symmetrical, bitterness is concave, pointy, and asymmetrical, while umami is curvy and soft. The horizontal opening of the shapes is correlated to subjective data extracted from the tasting of the seven kinds of cheese, from 1 to 10 for each savor.
Around that central shape, the aromas develop themselves as flashing glyphs, some theoretical, cryptic data, virtual and complex, an asemic, digital, purely visual poetry, undecipherable words, a forgotten, alien, exotic language, a mystical puzzle of fast thoughts and ideas, always changing at quantum speed, vertical wind, symbolic incense or futuristic prayer, infinite matrix, computed simulation of reality, some kind of hidden code. These glyphs are sorted into seven groups, corresponding to the seven major types of aromas found in cheese: lactic, vegetal, fruity, floral, animal, roasted, and spicy. The actual names of the aromas (referring to various other foods or smells) are translated from french to custom fonts created as those glyphs, which each represent one of seven aroma families. Specific colors are assigned to each one of them, also based on concrete scientific studies about the perceptive correlation between colors and the sense of smell. A great focus has also been put on the chronological aspect of the development of savors and aromas, some cheeses developing some specific sensations in a specified order, and some lasting longer in the mouth or nose.
The red reboot transition between each cheese sequence represents the sip of red wine that rinses the tongue and palate from the previous taste particles and sends back into the nose all the remaining aromas, mixed to those of the specific wine profile to complete the experience and allow for the next tasting.