A registration for the activities of the Department of Search (located at the University of Utrecht). The video serves as documentation and was used in a background installation presenting several projects.
General information about the filmed project:
The Giant Corn Field of The Department of Search was a test to see how the campus is positioned in terms of self sufficiency. What is the level of sustainability on campus? The campus is highly engaged in sustainability issues of food, energy and water, with the best minds and facilities focused on global situations. But how is this research reflected in the local landscape? Ironically, the surrounding landscape showcases little sustainable research, and in general expertise is for elsewhere issues and leaves the landscape ironically barren. So how can we get the expertise out of the labs and into the field? We tested this by growing a giant corn field on campus with the efforts of the local community. Creating a place to come together from various disciplines, expertises, and professions (including cappuccino makers, security guards,and bus drivers) the corn field was a living prototype testing self sufficiency.
Making a corn field from scratch was also a way to understand the way the campus works, and we quickly got to know the campus as a very complex and regimented place (geared towards research rather than searching) and heavily reliant on outsourcing. If the campus was closed off for a day, it would collapse. Quite ironic for a campus whose focus is on sustainability issues. The project will continue, and after the harvest of the field, we will organize a sustainability scenario on the Uithof campus under the motto “sustainability in times of scarcity”. What happens if 70,000 daily visitors and inhabitants of the Uithof are dependent on what the land has to offer? Who survives and how will the campus look in a year? To put this image IN the Kamp(us) we will open a Supermarket where local products (food, water and energy) are offered.Artists, designers and scientists are invited to supply the supermarket. De Kamp(us) compels radical choices for a sustainable world.
Your Task: documentation of the harvest of the field in partnership with an existing food system on campus: Sodexo
The goal is to see how a large food system that is non-organic and highly systemized deals with locally produced organic produce.
Taking the giant vegetables from the field on campus into a highly controlled and regimented environment poses many challenges. The system is does not permit anything that is not in its carefully selected inventory of ingredients and processing system. Something that has to be processed on site, with human expertise and hands is not normal. Most stuff comes prepared and processed, to be opened and warmed. Human intervention is only used to open packages and press heating buttons. There are few people on staff. This is primarily a system based on profit and not food production. The system is so automated for efficiency and human involvement is costly and unnecessary. The system controls what comes in and very little goes out.
The giants are massive. They defy standardization. They are weird, unpredictable, local and raw. They are organic in a sterile environment. They are not yet processed. Being introduced into a system that requires little preparation poses many challenges of how to deal with them, such as what equipment is available to chop and cook them, what ingredients are available, and what experience is on hand to process them.
They are also not a part of their regular inventory, and they pose a risk. We cannot prep them unless it is in off hours, and we cannot store them in their facility for any length of time. They are contaminants and infiltrators to their system.
In short, let’s see how this system can allow for local food.