Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a work of digital literature about food and its affective resonances. It is composed of a series of short video vignettes. These stories poetically evoke a meal, a prepared dish or a recipe.

 

Designed as an intimate journey into an imaginary food museum, Vital Signs invites the viewer to share a subjective and sensory experience of food. Themes such as need, healing, motherhood, mourning or pleasure are explored.

Words 

Geneviève Sicotte

Images

Michael Smart

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An Autobiography through Food

In this work, Sicotte uses her own personal history – and some of the foods associated with it – to explore emotions. Together, the video vignettes make up a short and fragmentary “autobiography through food.”
 
For example, one vignette recounts the illness and loss of her father through the recollection of a lobster meal. In another one, she evokes the raspberry-picking of her childhood, as solitary but also serene and deeply satisfying. Elsewhere, the memory of a vegetable purée brings a reflection on need and resilience.


In all of these stories, she tries to see how food can become significant and speak of life experience.

To see Vital Signs

The work was presented in a first iteration during “What is Food?” It has now evolved into a web-based platform that incorporates new elements such as visual poems and short essays about the meanings of food.

The full work is online in open access. Have a look at the trailer.

Geneviève Sicotte is professor at the Département d’études françaises at Concordia University. Initially specialist of nineteenth century France, she has published Le festin lu. Le repas chez Flaubert, Zola et Huysmans and edited collections on the literary representations of economy and gastronomy.

 

Her current work is focused on the representation of food in Québec’s literature and culture. She has published the collection Gastronomie québécoise et patrimoine (2013) and a dossier titled « Raconter l’aliment » (in Captures, 2016). She is now developing her creative work with Vital Signs.