No, what you’re looking at is not some kind of lost prop from an old Alien movie. Rather, it’s part of an After Agri performance that was showcased at the recently concluded Digital Design Weekend at the V&A. During the art-piece, the head-mounted, face-clinging device was worn by an opera singer who used her breath to feed algae with carbon dioxide. Later, the audience was encouraged to “taste her song.”
Called the Algae Opera, artists Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton, along with mezzo-soprano Louise Ashcroft, intended to show how biotechnology can be used to transform organisms in a unique and creative way.
Because the algae’s growth is dependant on the amount of CO2 it receives, the singer controlled her pitch and volume to alter various characteristics of the algae, including taste (what they called “sonic enhancement”). Depending on the way she sang, the different pitches and frequencies could make the food taste either bitter or sweet.
And at the end of the performance, the audience was able to sample some of the algae — what the event organizers consider to be an important future food.