Mul Gimchi: Week 40

Mul gimchi has a delicate and refreshing flavor with just a touch of sweet ginger that is balanced by a slightly spicy finish. It has become one of my favorite side dishes and after receiving a container of homemade mul gimchi from my coworker, I realized it was possible to make such a delicious thing at home. A few days later Barret and I had the translated recipe and we were ready to leap into the annals of Korean cuisine.

The first hour was spent mincing all the ingredients while the baby radish leaves wilted under a coating of sea salt and the glutinous rice powder dissolved into a pot of hot water. The operation was running smoothly and the time had come to mix all the ingredients together.

“Barret, I think the water needs to keep boiling.”

“But the directions say ‘cooled’ so we should turn it off.”

“Actually it says ‘cooled boiled’ so keep the heat on.”

“Exactly, boil then cool.”

“No, boil then simmer.”

“You aren’t following directions.”

“I don’t need too. This is like a giant bag of tea and that requires heat. Let’s add more water.”

“We added five cups already.”

“Yes, but I don’t think we are making enough.”

“This isn’t a good idea.”

“This is a great idea.”

The following day we set our full Tupperware container before a panel of judges. With a grimace our coworkers delivered the verdict- too much garlic, too much salt, too many hot peppers, too much water, not enough ginger and the radishes were too radish-y. Even though the mul gimchi was politely pushed back onto our desk, Barret remained undeterred. With the enthusiasm of a man missing all but three taste buds, he poured himself a large helping and happily proclaimed, “I can’t taste anything! Anybody else want seconds?”

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Gwangju Design Biennale: Week 31

Design is design is not design.

From prostheses to burqas to the Alpine tourism industry, the Design Biennale 2011 explored the definition of design. While the lighting was maddeningly dim, there were some truly standout presentations.

The most impressive exhibit challenged the notion that great design should be invisible. In the app Phone Story, you explore the lifespan of a typical smartphone. Your first task is to mine coltan (a precious mineral essential for most electronic devices) from the heart of the Congo. Under your watchful eye, child miners find themselves at gun point if they try to sneak a break. Next on the to-do list is saving suicidal factory workers hurtling off a manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China before consigning e-waste to the appropriate ill-equipped sweatshop in Pakistan.

Last of all, the newest merchandise must be distributed. If you are too slow, the hordes of customers will blindly run into the storefront windows and die. If your aim is just right, the enthusiastic purchaser will squeal with joy before disappearing. While the game is easy to play, it leaves the player feeling uneasy. Phone Story is a subversive, self-referencing app that reminds the player of the true price and origin of the smartphone under their fingertips.

Hong Kongese Cage Home showed a perverse reality of design- that of necessity. In the high demand for space, immigrants and geriatric paupers in Hong Kong live in small steel cages. While it might resemble a poultry penthouse and sound like science fiction, it is in fact a depressingly human reality.

I also enjoyed a project called We Feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. Everyday their website “harvests” around 15,000-20,000 blog entries that begin with either “I feel” or “I am feeling” and records them into an emotions database. Each entry is displayed as an individual particle that can be grouped according to age, gender, weather condition, emotion, location, or randomized. You could stumble across someone’s thoughts or research something as specific as the average outlook of females in their 20’s in New York. Aside from being an interesting social experiment, it makes one think twice about what they write on the internet. You never know what kind of moonlighting your words might be doing once you log off.

How to get to the Gwangju Biennale Hall: From the express bus terminal take bus 16 or 48 to ‘Culture & Arts Center’. Walk up the street and the exhibition hall is located on the right hand side within the Jungoe Park Culture Belt.

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Phone Story

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We Feel Fine

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