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Opera Singer Louise Ashcroft Grows Algae With Her Breath, Feeds It to Audience

Wearing a bizarre face mask reminiscent of the H.R. Giger designs for the film "Alien," mezzo soprano Louise Ashcroft has performed a new opera in which she grows algae using the carbon dioxide generated by her singing and then gives her audience a taste of the edible result.

Titled "The Algae Opera," the piece was showcased during a recent Digital Design Weekend at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Not only does carbon dioxide gas exhaled copiously by the singer during her performance cause the algae to grow, the artists behind the piece claim that the pitch of Ashcroft’s voice affects the flavor of the futuristic food.

“The composition of the song and the singer’s vocal technique are redesigned to specifically produce algae and enrich its taste,” reads a description of the show by its creators Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton. “To do this, the composer and singer use the new science of sonic enhancement of food where different pitches and frequencies make food taste either bitter or sweet.”

The fictional storyline of the opera is set in the year 2060 when algae has become the world’s main food source and opera singers are prized not as much for their ability to deliver a tour-de-force rendition of "La Boheme," as for their ability to impart a full range of flavors to the green foodstuff by altering the tone and pitch of their voices.

Though the artists envision a future in which the extraordinary lung capacity of highly trained operatic vocalists will be employed to feed the world, Ashcroft herself is skeptical.

“This type of breath cycle is considered inefficient and undesirable due to the issues surrounding sustainability and aesthetic,” she said. For her, participating in "The Algae Opera," “has been about finding new things and reexamining old things.”

Artists Burton and Nitta remain optimistic.

“In the age of biotechnology, not only can the audience listen to her talent, but they can also savor her unique blend of algae that are enriched by her song,” they wrote.

SOURCES: io9, Wired, Burton Nitta


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