I know that most of you have thought about your health and digestive system while slurping down a bowl of Maruchan instant ramen. However, if you haven’t, I’m about to force the issue thanks to a new art-science crossover projected called Mouth to Anus (M2A, not kidding). The brain child of artist Stefani Bardin, working with gastroenterologist Dr. Braden Kuo of Harvard University, the project centers around data from a pill cam that shows you what processed food looks like during digestion. In case you’re wondering, the answer is “distressing.”
Bardin used two different pill probes in the project. One of them carried pressure, temperature, and pH sensors to monitor the conditions inside the gastrointestinal tract. The other, more dramatically, recorded video footage while inside the body of participants. Both pill devices transmitted the information in a manner similar to Bluetooth, and were limited only by the eight hour battery life of the pill cam.
In Bardin’s experiment, she fed two subjects similar but fundamentally different meals. The first subject received gatorade, instant ramen, and gummi bears; the second subject ate handmade noodles, hibiscus tea, and pomegranate-cherry juice gummies. The digestion of these meals was recorded with the pill cams, demonstrating quite viscerally how differently the human body handles these foods.
The project, which may be culminating in an immersive installation experience, aims to reveal the hidden world of eating. Firstly, by showing viewers how difficult it is for the body to digest processed foods — after two hours, ramen still looks like ramen. Secondly, and this is touched on briefly in the video below, the project also seems intent on revealing some of the surprising and disconcerting ingredients which are often hidden or somehow obfuscated on the food’s nutritional information. Did you know that ramen has a chemical similar to lighter fluid in it? Unsettling!
Bardin certainly has an axe to grind in this project, and while some may find that off-putting it’s a nonetheless revealing look at what goes on inside of you. Personally, I still feel like processed food has a place in my life, but maybe I should be making it a smaller portion of my eating habits.
- 10 foods, excluding ramen, that you can make in a coffee maker
- You could eat ramen for every meal, I guess
- I don’t even want to think about what a McRib looks like during digestion