Culture Stew 2020
Hack Culture Taiwan x Finland
Taipei & Kemiö, August 5th, 2020
Culture Stew, Hack Culture Taiwan x Finland, is a workshop concept by New Media Arts Creative team Dimension Plus and a Finnish designer-artist Tuomo Tammenpää. The idea of the workshop is to bring together curious minds from Taiwan and Finland and gather cultural idiosyncrasies of both cultures, put them in the proverbial slow boil and see what comes out of it, whether it is about actual food, traditions, music or local curiosities.
The first Culture Stew workshop took place in Taipei in September 2019 over three days. The next iteration of it was planned to be had in Finland in 2020 in collaboration with Pixelache & Norpas festivals. COVID-19 altered the plans to convert the 2020 gathering in Finland to two local gatherings, one in Taipei, Taiwan, one in Kemiö, Finland and connect the smaller gatherings with online conferencing tools. This workshop will take place on August 5th and 6th, 2020.
Finland and Taiwan – countries and cultures 8000 km apart. One with climate in the border of the arctic, the other close the tropics. Finland, big land – few people. Taiwan, small island – lot of people. Finland bordering Big Russia – Taiwan, Big China. Potatoes, bread and coffee versus rice, tofu and tea. Heavy metal meets mandopop. Finns “chill” in the sauna, Taiwanese in the hot springs. Many differences – some similarities.
In this iteration the team chose the venue of Kårkulla, Kemiö, old grammar school and it’s garden. Private home & studio space of Sari Kippilä & Tuomo Tammenpää, co-host the workshop. Participants can stay over in their own tents in the garden for the previous and following nights. Few bed accommodations on request. Vegan lunch is served as part of the workshop on Wednesday. Kitchen and Sauna are available.
Session 1, “Healing Shapes”
Drawing the idea from the history of Moxibustion, the Healing Shapes workshop aims to explore and share the culture of home remedies between Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Especially explore how the knowledge can be preserved in sensational objects, such as Moxa, or body movement, such as back scratch, passed on from one generation to the next. We will share our memories of our favorite balms, homemade or store bought, those with a smell evoking the experience of being sick or recovering – healing memories heal.
Session 2 “Bitter is Better”
Bitterness is probably the most unlikable and unbearable taste for human tongues, and naturally it contrasts strongly to the taste of sweetness. The reason that bitterness becomes the most susceptive sense of taste might results from the fact that most bitter-tasting substances are toxic, such as alkaloids. Consequently, the human body produces many bitter-tasting substance receptors to avoid harm. Aversion to bitterness is the our bodies' defense mechanism. Therefore, to increase our tolerance for bitterness acquires learning and training. Furthermore, our fondness for bitterness might also represents our cultural background.
Besides taste, bitterness is often associated with unbearable sensation such as pain, discomfort, suffering and toil in the body and even the mind. Due to COVID-19, people from all around the world is now suffering from all forms of pain. The original workshops have also been adjusted to held online through only audio and video, losing the possibilities to sync our sharing experience of smell, taste, etc. By designing the bitterness scale collaboratively, participants from all over the world bring various types of bitterness, depicting what bitterness is to them, classifying various types of bitterness according to their own feelings, and in the end we use mugwort water as the reference value to draw our own rating scale for bitterness.
Bitterness will also be made into kué with sweet red beans wrapped inside. The sweetness comes as an aftertaste when eaten together. As an old saying in Mandarin goes, "Sweetness comes after bitterness," we hope that everyone can embrace happiness together in our workshop amidst this global epidemic situation.