Fine food and fine art, according to Aerobanquets' founder Mattia Casalegno, are inextricably connected. He calls food "one of the first forms of art", and this connection is precisely what he explores in his new installation Aerobanquets RMX, combining VR, art, and food into one multi-sensory culinary experience.
You may have heard of Synesthesia. It's a strange phenomenon where certain people's senses seem to get mixed up. People with synesthesia can see music as colors, or feel a strong sense that a certain noise 'sounds red', for example.
If you thought that was interesting, Mattia Casalegno is allowing foodies to 'see' flavor, through a new VR experience that visualises tasting sensations through virtual artwork.
Co-created alongside critically acclaimed chef Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar, Guests eating at Casalegno's Aerobanquets installation are required to wear VR headsets throughout the meal, thrusting them into a virtual world of abstract and surrealist landscapes, taking their dining experience into Extended Reality (XR).
In this world, the environments are designed to represent the flavours presented to the diners–food falls from the sky, bright, bursts of color erupt into the landscape and abstract forms fly ahead, creating a multi-sensory XR experience like no other.
Inspired by social media trends, Casalegno realised that people prefer to photograph food first and foremost–we're so quick to get our food on the gram that savoring the flavor has become an afterthought. By immersing guests in a hand-crafted virtual world, Casalegno aims to bring people back to the pleasure's of eating, by allowing them to visualise flavors they explore throughout the meal.
So rather than looking at your food through the lens of your camera, you can look at the flavors through the lens of art–in a handcrafted VR world.
Dining in the Metaverse
Casalegno's virtual reality experience was designed as "a tool to reprogram all our perceptive expectations". Unfortunately, there were no go-to solutions combining the sensations of fine-dining and XR artwork (unsurprisingly), meaning he had to create it himself from the ground up.
Since creation in 2018, the project has been something of a social media phenomenon, exhibiting from NYC to Shangai, and everywhere inbetween. Now co-produced with Meta, diners don Meta Quest 2 VR headsets, giving the guests an insight into what dining in the metaverse might be like.