How did science fiction imagine yesterday about “future food”… and its crises?

After an aversion to food and veganism, Alimentarium explores the most intuitively fun universe, the realm of science fiction. Narratives of anticipation, cinema, and popular culture have given colors and shapes to the food of the future, and the Vivesan Museum brings them together in dialogue with our news on human eaters in 2022.

A slightly ancient object immediately challenges the visitor with this first cutlery question. An old housewife – cutlery set in a small suitcase – wonders about the idea of ​​proportion: what’s the point of continuing to eat together?

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drying up of the mediterranean

One SF dad Hugo Gernsback gave a clear first answer (“Ralph 124C 41+”), stating that a man would be perfectly happy if he were content to suck semi-liquid food through a dispenser, avoiding the effort of chewing and delirious socializing. At “Scienticafés” guests well seated in their leather armchairs will be fed through tubes, ultimately leading to true mouth-watering pleasure…

A color lithograph from the 1930s evokes the idea of ​​a cousin with a funny meal machine (Ismashine), whose embodied arms move to feed two dabblers facing each other, and her armor carefully protected by a bib.

These projections, dating primarily from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, may seem anecdotal or absurd, clever, and even visionary. Some are downright crazy. At the time of Nazi Germany’s expansion, an engineer was thinking of draining the Mediterranean to gain land and feed the mass of allied nations.

Single food and dried vegetables

Under the stern gaze of Nestlé pioneers, inventors of dehydrated vegetables and a thermos bottle, the subject takes on more salt. SF and our ancestors have invented thirty-six ways to break the seed, in a fairly near future: nostalgic or smiling, frightening or horrible insight. How will we eat in 2049? FOOD2049 title gives a nod to the latest new release Blade Runner 2049 And to start with SF buffs, others are sometimes left behind, due to a lack of references.

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The exhibition revolves around four themes. The Scienticafé evokes the possibility that humanity will break free from every effort a machine makes, right down to the gesture of bringing food to one’s mouth. Cybercocagne is where AI hints at a fully automated future. The single food theme, another ancient moon, is alternately seen as a liberating solution or as a final solution. Finally, ‘New Lands’ concludes the journey by listing different solutions, imaginary or real, to ensure food security for humanity in the face of the multiple challenges posed by demography, climate and epidemics.

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Between utopia and collapse

In the sixteenth century, philosopher and author of “Utopias” Thomas More imagined about an imaginary country in which citizens would be freed from the hardship of preparing food: but in its utopian kitchen, women and slaves were excluded…we’ve seen better. For example, in the fifties of the last century, which saw the emergence of the first smart kitchen Americans, respond to all our desires and carry out our orders. The charming housewife in the advertisement has to put on a bathing suit to go to the beach. Another world, the world of the Star Trek series, from the eighties, is producing refined molecules needed to cover all needs, putting an end to animal exploitation and starvation. It’s the 24th century, we’ll be back.

The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century saw the birth of many utopias, followed by darker visions, between fears and hopes, of the collapse of a world and the false discovery of unique food: grain, drink, powder, survival rations. The motif is very present in cinema in particular, Richard Fleischer’s “Soully Vert” cookies (1973) to THX 1138 (George Lucas, 1971), from “Brazil”, Terry Gilliam (1985) with her numbered plates and Woody Robots Allen (1973) .

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The future challenges of the sixties

In the 1960s, the BBC dealt with the issue of population growth and nutritional challenges that seemed insurmountable at the time. Three billion people on Earth will be fed, and tomorrow six billion, what can be done? The solution shown then involves the triumph of productive farming, or even the invention of vitamin-enriched meals. It is difficult to change the terms of the question, except for the numbers, but attacks on the environment and biodiversity are not taken into account.

Thus, we vacillate between a smiling vision of progress, supposed to free humanity from routine, recalling our most recent nightmares, and a loss of diversity synonymous with all peril.

At times, the 1950s and 1960s gave birth to a myriad of gadgets, like this prototype of the quintessential American kitchen according to Whirlpool for the National Gallery in Moscow in 1959. They found an echo with their fully automated pizzeria and cocktail bar. 100% independent, and it does exist, it epitomizes this absolute utopia.

The Alimentarium show will find many extensions by showing films between SF classics and other futuristic retro culinary workshops.


food 2049from May 20 2022 to March 2023 at food, Quai Perdonnet 25, Vevey. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm.

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