Gallery Write-up – “Sentient Kitchen” by Christine Chin

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I found this gallery exhibition by Christine Chin to be very interesting and thought-provoking – especially her whole take on the manmade tools vs. nature’s tools. I found her pieces reminding me of the strange object creatures in Alice in Wonderland, like the character that is a pair of glasses attatched to eyeballs and a nose. She said that she wanted the overall feeling of her exhibition to be grotesque yet humorous by using a lot of hair and fleshy textures. She used human-like body parts in order to catch people’s attention, but didn’t want people to think they were real body parts, so they are stylized just enough to prevent that.

All of her photographs feature a white background and showcase well-lit objects with very vivid warm colors. The bright warm colors enhance the feeling of intimacy and the white backgrounds make the line of pieces consistent and very simple and center-stage.

One concept she was playing with was the concept of manmade tools replacing nature’s intended tools. For example, formula replacing breastfeeding is shown by the pitcher covered in flesh and nipples. This could also be alluding to how milk that we drink from cows and other animals is supposed to be naturally drunk from the animal’s nipples. It makes us question what we are losing by desensitizing ourselves to the natural sources of our foods and drinks. It also makes you wonder if it’s wrong to be robbed of the intimacy of breastfeeding.

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She also wanted to experiment with the idea of objects having feelings, which is interesting, since many animations throughout the ages have experimented with giving life to otherwise non-sentienent objects. She says she wanted to make you wonder about whether the objects had feelings or not by just hinting at it in her presentations. Accompanying the gallery pieces were a series of looping video clips, and in one of them, there are two pairs of tongs with human-like teeth moving ever so slightly and eventually one of them is chosen to toss a salad. She wants to make you wonder if the other pair of tongs would be feeling sad, mad, or jealous that it wasn’t chosen.

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Christine Chin also expressed how she wanted to showcase how our bodies have amazing natural abilities that are difficult to replicate in science. For example, all the things our tongue can do; tell many different tastes apart, tell when something is too hot or too cold, push things around, produce saliva, and more. All these features are difficult to replicate with science. However, she says that science and life are starting to meet and cross borders with us being able to create forms of life in labs. She thinks that this means that we will need to redefine “What it means to be human.”

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