I love coffee. Most days I go to the coffee shop, chat with friends, order an espresso, sit, sip and socialize. And I will admit that when I am stuck in a cycle of “not so productiveNESS,” coffee gets the creative juices flowing much faster than if I didn’t indulge in this experience. Maybe it’s the coffee, maybe it’s the social interaction, who knows? As a matter of fact I was savoring a shot of espresso just short time ago. Of course because I question EVERYTHING, especially if I suspect an injustice: environmental, social, cultural, political or otherwise, I must question how the action of me… we… us… drinking coffee affects our greater community, our greater humanity.
As I am thinking about a research project for my Research as Art and Transformation class I wondered if coffee and its geopolitical implications could possibly be part of my project.
With some guidance from my friend and professor, Howard, (a.k.a “frifessor” as coined by my other frifessor, Paulette) I have come up with a loose idea. I would like to follow the path of coffee from tree to cup and in the process tell a story of the journey: community, consumer, retailer, roaster, importer, exporter, grower, worker, landowner, community. I have started reading a book that Howard suggested, Uncommon Grounds/The History of Coffee and How it Transformed our World, by Mark Pendergrast, as well as an article using a similar method of research… tracing the trail of the tomato, titled Zooming Out/ Zooming In ~Visualizing Globalization by Deborah Barndt. I would like to look closely at the implications of coffee in the communities on both ends of the bean. In the process cultivate an awareness and consciousness of coffee consumption in the western culture in which I live.
I am still thinking about a possible art-based component to incorporate. Some ideas I have considered: using interviews with consumers, documenting through video and photography including an interactive artistic installation at a local coffee shop in which I present a task or a question based on my research. I am still working that out in my doodles and am very open to ideas and feedback about this idea. Here are a few coffee photos and one film clip… just for fun.