Mugaritz XX Aniversario
Mugaritz XX Aniversario…
…is a multisensory dining experience that was shared with over 10,000 people from all over the world during the 2018 season at Mugaritz, one of the world’s most influential restaurants, located in northern Spain, in celebration of their twentieth anniversary.
Midway through the twenty-plus-course tasting menu, all of the diners—up to sixty at a time—are served a dish that appears to be an acorn encased in amber on an oak base under a glass dome.
When the domes are removed from the dishes, the restaurant is filled with the sound of a music box emanating from the plates themselves in a generative, spatial counterpoint, evoking curiosity, nostalgia, and wonder. Then when diners reach out to take the food—a single, richly complex bite of smoked Idiazabal cheese mixed with fat from Iberian ham and topped with buckwheat berries that have been inoculated with koji mold, suspended inside spherified mushroom broth—celebratory sounds of toys and whistles and party favors play in response to each diner’s touch, as the music transitions to joyful rhythms of guitar, voices, and percussion.
The dishes contain custom sensors, and they are networked together to a central server, allowing the music to be coordinated in harmony and rhythm, even though each plate’s part is algorithmically varied. They not only blend in with the fine dining décor, but integrate into the restaurant’s highly optimized workflow, while being robust enough for several months of regular use.
The end result is that diners do not simply observe but actually enact and embody this anniversary celebration. The interactive, decentralized sound highlights the ways in which all of the diners are complicit in the same food supply infrastructure. Each participant is dependent upon the other diners in the restaurant to complete their experience, provoking a broader reconsideration of the connections to other people, to one’s own senses, and to the wider environment.
Ben Houge (USA), composer, programmer
Jutta Friedrichs (Germany), designer and project manager
Andoni Luis Aduriz (Spain), head chef and founder of Mugaritz
Ramon Perise (Spain), chef and head of R&D at Mugaritz
Iñaki Remiro Virto (Spain), fabrication of oak base and glass dome
Spencer Russell (USA), custom circuit board design, prototyping, and programming
Kenn Sebesta (USA), custom circuit board prototyping
Robert Kim (Russia), custom circuit board layout and assembly support
Nanwei Gong (Taiwan), technical advising and moral support
Nan Zhao (Germany), technical advising and moral support
Matt Azevedo (USA), acoustic consulting
Óscar Oliva (Spain), video documentation
Claudio Ragazzi (Argentina), guitar
Richard “Gus” Sebring (USA), horn
Ben Houge (USA), percussion and voice
Jessica Richmond (Canada), voice
Zahili Gonzalez Zamora (Cuba), voice
Enrique Gonzalez Müller (Venezuela), audio engineering and recording
Thanks to Pep Gatell and Nadala Fernández of La Fura dels Baus for support and concept development during the ‘èpica i singular’ workshop, summer 2017.
Thanks to Josh “Muffin” Gordonson and Eric Rosenbaum for their assistance in the early stages of prototyping.
Thanks to Ron Malenfant at Cisco for generous network equipment support.
And thanks to Sandra and Ian for the original music box.