On virtual food “Take some more tea”, the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. “I’ve had nothing yet”, Alice replied in an offended tone: “so I can’t take more.”


New Japanese Air Yakiniku restaurant has recently become one of the most visited Korean barbecue of the world: no need for reservation, no queuing at all and most importantly no digesting problems…yes, because Air Yakiniku is actually a visual and auditory web-based restaurant and can only serve you virtual food!

The idea sounds definitely unordinary, if not completely crazy: you enter the site and are immediately invited to download a template to make a real paper apron to prevent your pc from getting dirtied by grease splattering; after that the site suggests to accompany your ‘meal’ with a (real) bowl of rice and some dipping sauce and when you’re ready there you go: your virtual meat starts to get cooked on the screen ‘till finally at the ring of a bell you can actually click on your chopsticks and enjoy your…meal.

Now I don’t think the point is to judge whether or not the whole idea makes sense or is just an idiotic and meaningless waste of time (go and have a look at the numerous exhilarating comments on the video: ‘Feeding on air…Yummm I feel full already!!’ style) but I would rather express a couple of thoughts regarding this weird ‘experiment’:


First of all, as already suggested by other bloggers the whole idea could be ironically interpreted as a satire both on the ongoing economic crisis (when my poor pockets don’t allow me to take my wife out for dinner, let me at least enjoy my virtual barbecue at home!) and also on the huge spread of visual and interactive games and communication platforms in our modern society.


Secondly, the whole idea of mimicking reality to an almost perfect level of likeness is a typical and age-old way for men to represent their world and in a way control and understand it better (think about the cave drawings of ferocious animals in primitive times);

This website could also be a funny analysis on human perception, on how our primary senses react to some visual and auditory impulses and immediately activate our ‘hunger centre’ in brain (I must say that I totally agree with some bloggers considering this quite a masochist and cruel game though!)

Air Yakiniku can give rise to such reflections or simply be a nonsense idiotic game for masochist players and desperate subjects on a diet….

…or maybe the truth is that we’re not used to spontaneous and ingenuous fun anymore, so used to give facts their right and rational interpretations that we cannot be surprised by anything anymore!


Just as a final comment on the need for all societies of any time to express themselves, artistically and sociologically, in a realistic way, I just want to remind that Lumière brothers’ “Arrival of a train at La Ciotat”, considered to be the first motion picture in modern history, is completely based on this realistic trick of a train heading for the screen and almost running over the audience.


Popular legend has it that, when the film was shown, the first-night audience fled the café in terror, fearing being crushed by the ‘approaching’ train.

Could it simply be that we’re not used to such simple and straightforward irony anymore?

Blog — Gianna Yebut, July 28, 2009 @ 12:14 am

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