College of Architecture and Design Calendar - University of Houston
Skip to main content

College of Architecture and Design Events Calendar

Trans-Scalar Lecture: Cooking Sections

Monday, April 17, 2023

12:00 pm -

If you plan to attend virtually via Zoom, please register here.

When [Salmon Salmon [Salmon]]
Farmed salmon are a constructed animal, one of the most recently domesticated and industrialised species in human history. In this performative-lecture Cooking Sections reflect on their expansive body of work on the environmental impact of salmon farms which can be traced far beyond the circumference of open-net pens, and everything that escapes through them. Salmon farms have transformed communities, ecologies, food webs, and the way we see the world.

Questioning what colours we expect in our ‘natural’ environment, it asks us to examine how our perception of colour is changing as we are changing the planet. Looking at different recent projects from Skye to New Orleans, they will present the role of oysters in alternative aquacultures, and how they have nourished human and nonhuman bodies for millennia. Like a modern palimpsest, oysters record time and events. Similar to tree rings, every season an oyster grows a shell around their lip. As the shell grows it encases the environmental conditions in which they live. Oysters tell stories about storms, hurricanes and droughts, the invention of dredgers, the expansion of cities; they also remember oil spills and gas leaks, and more recently, the effects of global pandemics. These material records are some of the witnesses that allow us to read our increasingly built environments.


About Cooking Sections

Cooking Sections examines the systems that organise the world through food. Using site-responsive installation, performance and video, they explore the overlapping boundaries between art, architecture, ecology and geopolitics. Established in London in 2013 by Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, their practice uses food as a lens and a tool to observe landscapes in transformation. They have worked on multiple iterations of the long-term site-responsive CLIMAVORE project since 2015, exploring how to eat as humans change climates. In 2016 they opened The Empire Remains Shop. Their work has been exhibited at Tate Britain, Serpentine Galleries, SALT, Bonniers Konsthall, Lafayette Anticipations, Grand Union, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Atlas Arts, HKW, Storefront for Art and Architecture; the Taipei Biennial, Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, Cleveland Triennial, Shanghai Biennial, Los Angeles Public Art Triennial, Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Sharjah Art Biennial, Performa17, Manifesta12, and New Orleans Triennial among others. They have been residents at Headlands Center for the Arts, California; and The Politics of Food at Delfina Foundation, London. They are part of British Art Show 9. They lead a studio unit at the Royal College of Art, London, and were guest professors at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. Cooking Sections were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2021. They were awarded the Special Prize at the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize and were nominated for the Visible Award for socially-engaged practices. Daniel is the recipient of the 2020 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize for Being Shellfish.


About the TRANS-SCALAR Lecture Series
Historically, design disciplines have been attached to specific scale spectrums -the scales of Industrial Design, Interior Architecture, Architecture, Urbanism, or Territory- However, the objects we design are not inert assemblies of material forms. In every design decision we make, we mobilize, increase pressure, and transform the Earth’s system, including within human and non-human life forms. Every design decision can provoke ecological tension, inequality, and disruptions that lead the planet to amplified natural catastrophes for which no one can quite be blamed. Design is trans-scalar if we realize simple equations: every pile produces a whole, and every material form has its equivalent negative somewhere else.

How do we think and practice design ethically when acknowledging the objects we design are not innocent, but the intractability washes the responsibilities of natural catastrophe? The way of displaying the complex reality of design is by disclosing its trans-scalar powers. Objects of design are assemblages of many layers -the ecological, political, social, formal, material, technological, and environmental-combined in ethical and aesthetic forms. When these layers come together in exemplary works, they disseminate knowledge by becoming paradigms.

In this new era of ecological consciousness, design becomes an embassy, a cross-section, of all these layers representing the myriads of scales in which every design decision operates from the molecular to the cosmic scales. This program series posits the question of trans-scalar design via the social, cultural, historical, and environmental realms and how designers respond to the responsibilities of trans-scalar materiality.

Learn more about the TRANS-SCALAR Lecture Series.

Cooking Sections