#Foodporn in the Age of Coronavirus (an Epilogue)

Published in
Issue #01

#Foodporn in the Age of Coronavirus (an Epilogue)[1]


It is impossible to talk about food in the first half of 2020 without acknowledging the global coronavirus pandemic and the global structural inequalities that it has thrown into sharp relief.[2] In a few swift months, we have seen unexpected death, pain and suffering caused by a medical and healthcare infrastructure that has been crippled by measuring care in money.[3] The wealthiest economies in the world have suddenly experienced economic slowdowns, and the weaker economies have had to perform the cruel algebra of life, choosing between letting people die of infection or of starvation.[4] Education systems have experienced the sudden shock of social distancing,[5] and consumer cultures came almost to a standstill as people realised the pathology of touch as well as excessive consumption.[6] We started to live lives online as the world slowed down, people retreated into their homes, and those who were privileged enough established a new normal in the safety of their gated communities and stored resources.

Once everybody had stored enough toilet paper, hoarded enough provisions to fend off a siege, and established the creature comforts of quotidian living, life shifted online.[7] In that shift, social media feeds slowly saw a surge of food-related posts. People started discovering their kitchens and marvelling at the alchemy and chemistry of cooking as almost everyone worked from home, gender and class roles reversed,[8] and invisible domestic workers were absent. Numerous social media groups discussing culinary skills, cooking techniques, and recipe exchange became de jour. ‘Comfort cooking’ and ‘corona baking’[9] became actual hashtags, as people started showing off the cakes, pastries, breads, and delicacies[10] that they started whipping out like talismans against this pandemic. Home cooks became master chefs, Instagram filters for food had a sudden upsurge in usage, and as people tried to hide their ‘corona hair,’ their carefully sculpted selfies were replaced by beautifully staged plates of food, waiting to be eaten.

The hashtag #foodporn was almost constantly trending during the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdowns, as food became the indulgence that only a few could afford and perversely show off. In her research on selfies and influencers, anthropologist Crystal Abidin[11] has theorised that at the heart of selfies is inauthenticity. She reminds us that the selfie does not pretend to be true-to-life, but rather reveals the capacity to manipulate and recreate the self which peeks through the filtered lens of the digital camera. Elsewhere, I have written[12] that the selfie has to be seen not as an individual object but a networked digital object that creates the self in plenty—as the selfie gets stored, it travels, creating multiple copies of itself, replicating with virulent contagion over the networks of circulation that it is created for. The selfie is obscene not because of its content but because of its plentiful and perverse plenty; the creation of many from the one without any human aid.

The same holds true for #foodporn. In itself, it is already a hugely problematic genre that stages food as an object of sensual desire rather than nutrition. It marks a particular condition of plenty where you can reduce food to an image. It is a hyper-aestheticisation of food—filtered in all its full-frontal glory—that no longer has to worry about the more banal anxieties of hunger or nutrition. The restaurant images of appetising food, matched by ‘home-chefs’ recreating masterful dishes, have contributed hugely to this genre. The moment of absolute obscenity is in ‘foodporn,’ where food is staged only to be photographed, not eaten. There has been a shameless practice of adding colours, additives, plastics and other inedible components to make food photographs look better, discarded once the image has been captured.[13] Even in normal times, when the global inequity on food and hunger has been noticeable and often commented on, foodporn remains a genre that reeks of privilege, if not apathy.

However, in the times of COVID-19, these foodporn practices took up an entirely new space. In the flattened space of our black-mirrored media, #foodporn posts were punctuated by pictures of migrants walking home—without food, without means, in fear of police violence—fleeing the infected cities in hope of slowing starvation and finding food and shelter. For every perfectly photographed dish, there were reports of millions of people experiencing hunger, malnutrition, and, in some cases, mortality, because of a lack of adequate food in the face of unplanned lockdowns. The stories of good Samaritans doing food distribution and feeding the poor and the homeless in large parts of the world were lost in the deluge of #foodporn that unapologetically, without reflexivity or irony, flooded our social timeline, as people felt heroic in mastering a recipe or finding a creative replacement for an exotic ingredient that their local grocery no longer stored.

This extreme oscillation of the two subjects of food—one marked by obscene plenty and the other by extreme deprivation—cohabiting in the same space of our social media spectacles requires a deeper reading. I look at this food that is not just aesthetisised but weaponised, creating a world of excessive indulgence, and faked aesthetics, where food is treated, processed, manipulated and rehearsed to appear aspirational and unattainable, as symptomatic of a technological plenty that Clemens Apprich calls the ‘paranoia of scarcity.’[14] In his conception of technological paranoia, Apprich shows how simulations of the excess on social media are often symptomatic deflection of attention from the scarcity of the same object. Or, as commonsense social media knowledge goes, if two people are excessively displaying their affection for each other online, posing pictures of continued togetherness, you can safely assume that all is not well in Bliss-ville. The paranoid subject, in Apprich’s framework, is primarily paranoid about their own memory and judgement. The paranoid subject hoards, collects, obsessively records, documents, counts, and narrates the world around them because they are scared that they might forget what it is that they have to be scared of; scared of losing what they do not remember as having. Technological paranoia is manifest in a subject documenting what they fear they are losing the most, relegating the fickleness of memory to conditions of robust storage.

Foodporn during COVID-19 can be understood as a paranoid overproduction of a thing that we know is going to disappear, or is becoming scarce. It creates food as a fantasy, food as visuality, food as so excessively visible that we stop worrying about the politics of food and the paucity of resources that are so critically experienced and witnessed during the crisis. It is a question worth asking: in times when we are experiencing global hunger and the threat of human-made climate change to the entire food resources of the planet, why has foodporn become such a trending and dominant genre? How is it that the more we see and hear of the hunger and waste around us, the more we find ourselves willing to participate in the fake and frivolous visuals that transform food from vital resource into indulgent pleasure?

For an answer, I turn to Vilém Flusser, who, in his lectures on the crisis of linearity, offered a deceptively simple aphorism. Flusser makes the distinction between a traditional and technical image.[15] The traditional image, for Flusser, is the first degree of imagination that helps us move from image to writing. Flusser argues that the most important primeval prehistoric medium was the image—like cave drawings or hieroglyphs. The image recalled a complex and confusing multi-dimensional world and rendered it flat on a two-dimensional surface. The image functioned first as a map or a window to the world. It gave the world a significance, but not necessarily an explanation. Within an image, we get a sense of how things are related, but those relationships are not offered as an explanation of the image. This, according to Flusser, is the first-degree imagination and is the order of magic and myth. The world of traditional images is thus an enchanted world, though not necessarily an illusory one. The image stands between the human being and the world, more like an opaque screen than writing, which is often made to perform the role of a map. This is why we get idolatry or even the Marxist notion of reification, which produces the image as hallucination.

Flusser argues that to break away from this magical nature of the image, and to move away from its unfixed malleability, we turned to writing. Writing, to begin with, is a critique of ideology. It attempts to tear down images, and gets rid of myths and superstition. The first task of writing is deconstruction. It begins with the project of civilisation and enlightenment, and rearranges the two-dimensional series of images into uni-dimensional linearity. Tim Ingold[16] characterises this as the ‘secret lives of lines,’ showing us how lines impose an order and structure that seeks to remove the unwanted or the unpredictable in the guise of ordering. The process of analysis is withholding of one dimension. Linear writing transcodes the circular repetitive time of magic and myth into the linear time of facts and history. We conceive of history as the chronological linearity of before after—it leads to the production of historical consciousness and conceptual thinking. This relationship of cause and effect enables conceptual to replace imaginative thinking and imagination; sensations, myths, and superstitions are replaced by explanations. Explanations displace magic and carry out a disenchantment of the world through enlightenment. It is not enough that the world is mysteriously significant; it also has to be meaningful because without meaning, we are left with superstition. In Western history, the antagonism between linearity, image, and imagination led to the production of the image becoming more rational and writing becoming more imaginative, thus leading to what Flusser calls the first order of imagination.

The second order of imagination is ushered by linearity discursively dismantling imagination, as well as dismantling itself. When critique starts critiquing not just the image but itself, we reach a second order of imagination. This is what the German culture philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno[17] described as the ‘dialectic of enlightenment’—they illustrate how rationality was used to overcome myth and magic, and thus became the biggest myth of them all. As they would have it, this myth of the rational led to the production of the concentration camps of Auschwitz. In their thesis on the Holocaust, Auschwitz is not a deviation from enlightenment reason but its logical conclusion; a state where enlightenment reason dismantled itself.

For Flusser, this ‘suicide of reasons’ produces a new kind of image—the technological image. He takes photography as a first example of it. Photography is not antagonistic to writing as painting was. Photography transcodes text into images by two steps: first, analysing lines by reducing it to points and pixels; and second, synthesising them into concrete images. They are abstractions, but concrete abstractions. For me, they signal the end of linear time, of history, of cause-and-effect, of meaning. Instead, they give us randomness, statistical imagination, and computation.

This technological image presents a universe that cannot be grasped from the perspective of writing and images. Cultural conservatism will have nothing to say about the technological images because, for Flusser, they embody a second-degree imagination that is post-historical, uncertain, and synthesised by new codes. The technological image has an underlying utopianism where the crisis of meaning is suspended. It allows for a postmodern aesthetic where texts become incomprehensible—reaching a new stage of ‘textolatory’ (a form of textual idolatry)—through deep Hermeticism, thus positioning the technological image as the centre of mass culture.

For me, the emergence of foodporn has to be read as a manifestation of this technological image. It aligns itself with mass consumption, emancipating the human into a new state—the homo ludens, the playful human. The technological image of foodporn is part fantasy, antagonistic to history, freed of explanation, and bereft of the responsibilities of mythmaking, becoming a way by which our thinking, critical, and discerning facilities can now be disposed, either on to intelligent technologies or bodies that are disposable except for their invisible labour. Foodporn is not just the digitisation of food; it is the rendering of food as pure affect—which means it has no durability; it is merely a discharge. It takes the materiality of a scarce produce like food, converts it into a form of white noise, and circulates it as a myth that blocks out all the cries, screams, agitations, and protests that surround the politics and materiality of food, leaving it as an orgasmic simulation of an aspirational image.


Bibliography

Abidin, Crystal, ‘“Aren’t These Just Young, Rich Women Doing Vain Things Online?”: Influencer Selfies as Subversive Frivolity.’ Social Media + Society (2016). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116641342.

Apprich, Clemens, ‘Data Paranoia: How to Make Sense of Pattern Discrimination.’ In Pattern Discrimination, edited by Götz Bachman et al., 99-123. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2018.

Biswas, Soutik, ‘Coronavirus: India’s Pandemic Lockdown Turns into a Human Tragedy.’ BBC. March 30, 2020.Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52086274.

Dreyfuss, Emily, ‘Why Bread Broke the Internet.’ The Correspondent. May 25, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://thecorrespondent.com/486/kneading-sanity-and-stability-why-bread-broke-the-internet/521217641538-822ec66d.

Field, Anne, ‘Is COVID-19 Causing More Socially Responsible Consumer Behavior?’ Forbes. May 24, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2020/05/24/is-covid-19-causing-more-socially-responsible-consumer-behavior/#3965733464d6.

Flusser, Vilém, Into the Universe of Technical Images. Translated by Nancy Ann Roth. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2011.

Ghoshal, Somak, ‘Did Covid-19 Push Indian Men into the Kitchen?’ LiveMint. April 18, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/did-covid-19-push-indian-men-into-the-kitchen-11587128045480.html.

Gordon, Neve and Penny Green, ‘The Coronavirus Crisis Affects Us All.’ OpenDemocracy. April 21, 2020.Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/acceleration-death-precipitated-covid-19-exposes-state-crime/.

Gürses, Seda, ‘Rectangles-R-Us.’ Crisis Education: Critical Education. ArtEZ University of the Arts. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.artez.nl/en/webinar-crisis-education-critical-education?fbclid=IwAR2WJMiRMG6EqfZpUDjPWlDNtdecPG3MDJanxBPVmgGpK1EWnYeUX63ZIfc.

‘Home Baking Is on the Rise, Thanks to Coronavirus Lockdowns,’ The Economist. April 8, 2020. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/08/home-baking-is-on-the-rise-thanks-to-coronavirus-lockdowns.

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Ingold, Tim, Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge, 2007.

Mull, Amanda, ‘Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Life.’ Eater. July 6, 2017. https://www.eater.com/2017/7/6/15925940/instagram-influencers-cronuts-milkshakes-burgers.

Shah, Nishant, ‘The Selfie Is as Selfie Does: Three Propositions for the Selfie in the Digital Turn.’ In Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice, edited by Aileen Blaney and Chinar Shar, 149-161. London: Bloomsbury, 2018.

UNESCO, ‘Education: From Disruption to Recovery.’ Accessed July 14, 2020. https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse.

World Health Organization, ‘Statement – Recovery Must Lead to a Different Economy, an Economy of Well-being.’ May 28, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/statements/2020/statement-recovery-must-lead-to-a-different-economy,-an-economy-of-well-being.


Footnotes:

[1] All other contributions in this issue of APRIA were written in pre-coronavirus time.

[2] Neve Gordon and Penny Green in their analysis of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis penned a poignant editorial looking at the ways in which ‘structural violence’ is unleashed upon those most vulnerable, as states take control of the epidemic. ‘The Coronavirus Crisis Affects Us All,’ OpenDemocracy, April 21, 2020,accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/acceleration-death-precipitated-covid-19-exposes-state-crime/.

[3] In a statement during the pandemic, Dr. Hans Henri P. Klug, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, pointed out the unpreparedness and the crippling of healthcare in some of the wealthiest countries in the world when dealing with the coronavirus. World Health Organization, ‘Statement—Recovery Must Lead to a Different Economy, an Economy of Well-being,’ May 28, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/statements/2020/statement-recovery-must-lead-to-a-different-economy,-an-economy-of-well-being.

[4] Soutik Biswas, reporting for the BBC from India, points out after one of the largest exoduses of internally dislocated migrant workers in India, that they had to choose between starvation and risk of infection, when their livelihoods were halted abruptly and the state failed to provide adequate support or even food. ‘Coronavirus: India’s Pandemic Lockdown Turns into a Human Tragedy,’ BBC, March 30, 2020,accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52086274.

[5] UNESCO estimates that the different global lockdowns have impacted more than 60% of schools adversely around the globe, often leading to absolute disruption and suspension in many of the poorer countries struggling to keep up with ICT infrastructure. ‘Education: From Disruption to Recovery,’ accessed July 14, 2020, https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse.

[6] Anne Field, reporting for Forbes, reports that the new restrictions are making consumers consider their consumption patterns and reflect on how their choices and unthinking consumption contribute to the global inequalities fuelled by the coronavirus crisis. ‘Is COVID-19 Causing More Socially Responsible Consumer Behavior?’ Forbes, May 24, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2020/05/24/is-covid-19-causing-more-socially-responsible-consumer-behavior/#3965733464d6.

[7] In her three-part webinar for Crisis Education: Critical Education for the ArtEZ University of the Arts, Seda Gürses calls this the new phenomenon ‘Rectangles-R-Us,’ a condition where all our lives get flattened on to the bordered rectangles of visual frames on our digital devices.

[8] Somak Ghoshal, writing for The Mint, shows how in India, where traditional gender roles ascribe cooking to women, men cooped up in the house suddenly took valorised positions as home chefs. Similar reports and trends are reported around the world, where food has been gendered in its domesticity. ‘Did Covid-19 Push Indian Men into the Kitchen?’ LiveMint, April 18, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/did-covid-19-push-indian-men-into-the-kitchen-11587128045480.html.

[9] The Economist tracks the trend of people baking in coronavirus times, and gives a glimpse of the pockets and structures of privilege that can be traced around breakout hotspots. ‘Home Baking Is on the Rise, Thanks to Coronavirus Lockdowns,’ The Economist, April 8, 2020, https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/08/home-baking-is-on-the-rise-thanks-to-coronavirus-lockdowns.

[10] Emily Drefuss’ evocative, visceral, and reflective essay on the materiality of coronavirus baking and how it makes sense of the experience of crisis is a great thesis on understanding this not as a stand-alone indulgence but as a negotiation with an existential state of being. ‘Why Bread Broke the Internet,’ The Correspondent, May 25, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://thecorrespondent.com/486/kneading-sanity-and-stability-why-bread-broke-the-internet/521217641538-822ec66d.

[11] Crystal Abidin, ‘“Aren’t These Just Young, Rich Women Doing Vain Things Online?”: Influencer Selfies as Subversive Frivolity,’ Social Media + Society (2016), https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116641342.

[12] Nishant Shah, ‘The Selfie Is as Selfie Does: Three Propositions for the Selfie in the Digital Turn,’ in: Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice, ed. Aileen Blaney and Chinar Shar, 149-161 (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

[13] Amanda Mull provides a deep insight into the aesthetics of Instagram food influencer stunts as she analyses the shift from ‘practice into aesthetics.’ ‘Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Life,’ Eater, July 6, 2017, https://www.eater.com/2017/7/6/15925940/instagram-influencers-cronuts-milkshakes-burgers.

[14] Clemens Apprich, ‘Data Paranoia: How to Make Sense of Pattern Discrimination,’ in: Pattern Discrimination, ed. Götz Bachman et al., 99-123 (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2018).

[15] Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, trans. Nancy Ann Roth (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2011).

[16] Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History (London: Routledge, 2007).

[17] Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).



Nishant Shah

Dr. Nishant Shah is a feminist, humanist, technologist whose work examines infrastructures, collectivity, and subjectivity in the digital turn. He is the co-founder of The Centre for Internet & Society, India. He is also the Director of Research and Outreach and Professor of Aesthetics and Culture of Technologies at ArtEZ University of the Arts, the Netherlands, as well as a Knowledge Partner for the global art-technology think-tank Digital Earth Fellowship, and a mentor on the Feminist Internet Research Network. His book Really Fake will be published by Minnesota University Press in autumn 2020. 

Bibliography

Abidin, Crystal, ‘“Aren’t These Just Young, Rich Women Doing Vain Things Online?”: Influencer Selfies as Subversive Frivolity.’ Social Media + Society (2016). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116641342.

Apprich, Clemens, ‘Data Paranoia: How to Make Sense of Pattern Discrimination.’ In Pattern Discrimination, edited by Götz Bachman et al., 99-123. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2018.

Biswas, Soutik, ‘Coronavirus: India’s Pandemic Lockdown Turns into a Human Tragedy.’ BBC. March 30, 2020.Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52086274.

Dreyfuss, Emily, ‘Why Bread Broke the Internet.’ The Correspondent. May 25, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://thecorrespondent.com/486/kneading-sanity-and-stability-why-bread-broke-the-internet/521217641538-822ec66d.

Field, Anne, ‘Is COVID-19 Causing More Socially Responsible Consumer Behavior?’ Forbes. May 24, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2020/05/24/is-covid-19-causing-more-socially-responsible-consumer-behavior/#3965733464d6.

Flusser, Vilém, Into the Universe of Technical Images. Translated by Nancy Ann Roth. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2011.

Ghoshal, Somak, ‘Did Covid-19 Push Indian Men into the Kitchen?’ LiveMint. April 18, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/did-covid-19-push-indian-men-into-the-kitchen-11587128045480.html.

Gordon, Neve and Penny Green, ‘The Coronavirus Crisis Affects Us All.’ OpenDemocracy. April 21, 2020.Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/acceleration-death-precipitated-covid-19-exposes-state-crime/.

Gürses, Seda, ‘Rectangles-R-Us.’ Crisis Education: Critical Education. ArtEZ University of the Arts. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.artez.nl/en/webinar-crisis-education-critical-education?fbclid=IwAR2WJMiRMG6EqfZpUDjPWlDNtdecPG3MDJanxBPVmgGpK1EWnYeUX63ZIfc.

‘Home Baking Is on the Rise, Thanks to Coronavirus Lockdowns,’ The Economist. April 8, 2020. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/08/home-baking-is-on-the-rise-thanks-to-coronavirus-lockdowns.

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Ingold, Tim, Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge, 2007.

Mull, Amanda, ‘Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Life.’ Eater. July 6, 2017. https://www.eater.com/2017/7/6/15925940/instagram-influencers-cronuts-milkshakes-burgers.

Shah, Nishant, ‘The Selfie Is as Selfie Does: Three Propositions for the Selfie in the Digital Turn.’ In Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice, edited by Aileen Blaney and Chinar Shar, 149-161. London: Bloomsbury, 2018.

UNESCO, ‘Education: From Disruption to Recovery.’ Accessed July 14, 2020. https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse.

World Health Organization, ‘Statement – Recovery Must Lead to a Different Economy, an Economy of Well-being.’ May 28, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020. https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/statements/2020/statement-recovery-must-lead-to-a-different-economy,-an-economy-of-well-being.


Footnotes:

[1] All other contributions in this issue of APRIA were written in pre-coronavirus time.

[2] Neve Gordon and Penny Green in their analysis of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis penned a poignant editorial looking at the ways in which ‘structural violence’ is unleashed upon those most vulnerable, as states take control of the epidemic. ‘The Coronavirus Crisis Affects Us All,’ OpenDemocracy, April 21, 2020,accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/acceleration-death-precipitated-covid-19-exposes-state-crime/.

[3] In a statement during the pandemic, Dr. Hans Henri P. Klug, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, pointed out the unpreparedness and the crippling of healthcare in some of the wealthiest countries in the world when dealing with the coronavirus. World Health Organization, ‘Statement—Recovery Must Lead to a Different Economy, an Economy of Well-being,’ May 28, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/statements/2020/statement-recovery-must-lead-to-a-different-economy,-an-economy-of-well-being.

[4] Soutik Biswas, reporting for the BBC from India, points out after one of the largest exoduses of internally dislocated migrant workers in India, that they had to choose between starvation and risk of infection, when their livelihoods were halted abruptly and the state failed to provide adequate support or even food. ‘Coronavirus: India’s Pandemic Lockdown Turns into a Human Tragedy,’ BBC, March 30, 2020,accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52086274.

[5] UNESCO estimates that the different global lockdowns have impacted more than 60% of schools adversely around the globe, often leading to absolute disruption and suspension in many of the poorer countries struggling to keep up with ICT infrastructure. ‘Education: From Disruption to Recovery,’ accessed July 14, 2020, https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse.

[6] Anne Field, reporting for Forbes, reports that the new restrictions are making consumers consider their consumption patterns and reflect on how their choices and unthinking consumption contribute to the global inequalities fuelled by the coronavirus crisis. ‘Is COVID-19 Causing More Socially Responsible Consumer Behavior?’ Forbes, May 24, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2020/05/24/is-covid-19-causing-more-socially-responsible-consumer-behavior/#3965733464d6.

[7] In her three-part webinar for Crisis Education: Critical Education for the ArtEZ University of the Arts, Seda Gürses calls this the new phenomenon ‘Rectangles-R-Us,’ a condition where all our lives get flattened on to the bordered rectangles of visual frames on our digital devices.

[8] Somak Ghoshal, writing for The Mint, shows how in India, where traditional gender roles ascribe cooking to women, men cooped up in the house suddenly took valorised positions as home chefs. Similar reports and trends are reported around the world, where food has been gendered in its domesticity. ‘Did Covid-19 Push Indian Men into the Kitchen?’ LiveMint, April 18, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/did-covid-19-push-indian-men-into-the-kitchen-11587128045480.html.

[9] The Economist tracks the trend of people baking in coronavirus times, and gives a glimpse of the pockets and structures of privilege that can be traced around breakout hotspots. ‘Home Baking Is on the Rise, Thanks to Coronavirus Lockdowns,’ The Economist, April 8, 2020, https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/08/home-baking-is-on-the-rise-thanks-to-coronavirus-lockdowns.

[10] Emily Drefuss’ evocative, visceral, and reflective essay on the materiality of coronavirus baking and how it makes sense of the experience of crisis is a great thesis on understanding this not as a stand-alone indulgence but as a negotiation with an existential state of being. ‘Why Bread Broke the Internet,’ The Correspondent, May 25, 2020, accessed July 14, 2020, https://thecorrespondent.com/486/kneading-sanity-and-stability-why-bread-broke-the-internet/521217641538-822ec66d.

[11] Crystal Abidin, ‘“Aren’t These Just Young, Rich Women Doing Vain Things Online?”: Influencer Selfies as Subversive Frivolity,’ Social Media + Society (2016), https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116641342.

[12] Nishant Shah, ‘The Selfie Is as Selfie Does: Three Propositions for the Selfie in the Digital Turn,’ in: Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice, ed. Aileen Blaney and Chinar Shar, 149-161 (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

[13] Amanda Mull provides a deep insight into the aesthetics of Instagram food influencer stunts as she analyses the shift from ‘practice into aesthetics.’ ‘Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Life,’ Eater, July 6, 2017, https://www.eater.com/2017/7/6/15925940/instagram-influencers-cronuts-milkshakes-burgers.

[14] Clemens Apprich, ‘Data Paranoia: How to Make Sense of Pattern Discrimination,’ in: Pattern Discrimination, ed. Götz Bachman et al., 99-123 (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2018).

[15] Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, trans. Nancy Ann Roth (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2011).

[16] Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History (London: Routledge, 2007).

[17] Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).