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Dr. Athena Aktipis

Dr. Athena Aktipis is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University and co-director of The Human Generosity Project. She studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. She is also the chair of the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Meeting and host of the podcast Zombified. To learn more about her work, visit AktipisLab.org.

Bingo! Food is cooperation

Bingo! Food is cooperation is a social practice artwork that explores the cooperative behavior found in kombucha, and an interactive game that encourages us to think about food and food sharing as integral parts of everyday life.
Kombucha is just one of many foods containing a multitude of cooperative species; other examples include yogurt, cheese, sourdough bread, and kefir. We see kombucha as a complex system that is heavily reliant on multiple species interacting with each other, which parallels our own experience with food. COOPERATION+FOOD+BINGO! players will interact with strangers, friends, and family and have lively discussions about food, cooperation, and other human behavior.

This is Not a Hot Dog

The Arizona Cancer Evolution Center examines the iconic hot dog and considers all of the things that it means to people. After all, food is not just food; it represents myriad ideas that can be unpacked and investigated. Class, memory, health, disease, ritual, and family can all be explored through the hot dog.
Is the hot dog an emblem of Fourth of July picnics? Cancer? Food insecurity? Baseball?
This installation invites you to add your own thoughts and ideas. We want to know: what does a hot dog mean to you?

Frankenbucha

Kombucha, tea fermented by a symbiosis between bacteria and yeast, was touted in antiquity as an elixir of life – a panacea for countless ills. Today, we know that the microbes contained within the solution are the same species that spoil wine, beer, and contaminate preserved foods. During the fermentation process, they produce a fleshy, skin-like mass called a biofilm that protects and encapsulates the community. Just as Victor Frankenstein’s patchwork creation emerged from discarded and decaying material, so too does kombucha produce a new form of cooperative life from microbes thought to be undesirable and even dangerous. And, just like the monster from Mary Shelley’s tale, the grotesque and repulsive sight of kombucha obscures a complex, sophisticated creature within.