Aeroir builds on and expands the Smog Tasting project initially developed by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy in 2011, in which egg foams are used to harvest air from highly polluted areas and served in meringue form. In 2015, the Center partnered with Edible Geography to build a smog-eating food cart in order to serve smog meringues.
Edible Geography-author Nicola Twilley began to speculate about the concept of “aeroir,” and the idea that urban atmospheres capture a unique taste of place. She researched the history and technology of smog science, visiting the atmospheric process chambers at the Bourns College of Engineering, at the University of California, Riverside, in order to learn how scientists studying the relationship between emissions and atmospheric chemistry actually create synthetic smog in the lab.
The cart is painted in prototype smog-eating paint and is equipped with a portable environmental chamber to recreate atmospheric “episodes” from air quality data. The smog meringue has a powerful impact on audiences because it is a tangible sensory encounter with an otherwise largely invisible aspect of our environment—it translates banal air quality data and passive inhalation into an aesthetically, emotionally, and politically charged experience.
For Aeroir, we will continue to explore the impact of smog on human perception, health, and sense of place, drawing on emerging technologies and new findings in both environmental and sensory science to develop multi-modal experiences that operate at a variety of scales and formats.