I wanted to actually see what it would be like to get people who mostly had no idea how to make chicken nuggets make them in an assembly line.  I set up a simple assembly line with instructions and had each member of the thesis class man stations and isolate themselves by wearing headphones playing factory sounds.  The only exception was DeWolf and Xander, who worked together to butcher the chicken and who really enjoyed the experience of working together.  I designed and printed the instructions and also designed, printed, cut and formed the nugget packaging.



There are still many things to work out here, including the concise message I want to convey and how to ensure that it is not muddied by the participants actions and participation.  This is a video of what happened:

Feedback + Thoughts (11.19):

I realized many things in prototyping this experience and was also inspired to move forward with the idea.  These are notes from critique with my fellow students as well as guest critic, Masako Fujihata.

  • Some participants enjoyed working as a team and the idea of working together to create something
  • The sound creates a feeling of isolation vs. everyone hearing it together (headphones vs. speakers)
  • Participants wished that they could have completed all the steps as a group from start to finish, instead of using ingredients already prepared for each step.
  • Is the final product an “artisanal treat” or sealed and inedible?
  • What is the connection between audience and process?
  • Should there be a distinction between signing up to be factory worker or signing up to eat a nugget? Should it be random? Should eaters be completely disconnected from the participants?
  • What is the method of creation vs. delivery of nuggets and how does it affect each sides experience.
  • Sign up to receive and it’s by chance whether or not you get to eat or create.
  • Define a language of invitation and selling/giving away, etc.
  • Clearer instructions, how are people taught to do their stations?


It was thrilling to actually try out what has been slowly snowballing in my mind all quarter.  The path wasn’t clear from the beginning and I think the desire to work with food, food processing and cooking as mediums was distracting and difficult to manipulate.  The prototype proves that delving into processing food by allowing individuals to engage in the processing is both stimulating and thought provoking.  Clarifying the message may be something I’ll have to address in creating the environment, simplifying the instructions and exploring the output, what happens with the final edible product.

NEXT  Creating this as an experience to convey a message is no easy challenge but I remain excited to continue forward, focusing on the details that matter most and building the ecosystem in which the experience will exist.  Over the next 10 or so weeks I will design the experience from what participants will have to wear as they engage in the process to how the output will be branded.  There are many logistical hurdles ahead like how the piece will remain clean and food safe and that will also require another level of design: everything behind the scenes must also be carefully thought out for this project to work.  It will almost be like starting a tiny snack restaurant with a rotating staff that must be retrained at the beginning of every shift.  But I think that is part of what is so exciting to me about this project.

I’m considering how best to portray performance in food as a gallery installation piece. I think the subject must be quite striking and also accessible to anyone.  We have all heard myths about how McNuggets are made but I think participating in making them would be a very different experience.  I’m considering building an installation in which participants actually make chicken nuggets and participate in various stages of the process.

And to figure out how they’re made, I found a few very interesting videos put up by McDonalds and Cargill that show the process:

It’s also interesting to note how style food for ads compared with how it looks when ordered in a restaurant. This could also be an interesting comparison and participatory installation.

So, using this recipe as a guide, I made some turkey nuggets to see how feasible it would be to have people make mcnuggets in a gallery setting.

nuggets-test1 nuggets-test2