Ben Houge shares his concept of “food opera,” a unique pairing of music and gastronomy that presents a meal as a narrative medium, incorporating a thirty-channel speaker array and techniques from video game soundtracks to achieve an unprecedented level of synchronization between the senses of taste and hearing. In a series of collaborations with chef Jason Bond of Bondir restaurant in Cambridge, Ben has used this new genre to explore the phenomenological links between the senses, interpret poetry, and tell the stories of local farmers. More recently, he has composed music drawing on recent developments in crossmodal psychology to affect the perception of taste at dinners designed by chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory in London. Ben has lectured on this work at academic conferences and at Oxford University, as well as at some of the world’s leading restaurants, including The Fat Duck in Bray, England, and Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain. Last summer, Ben taught a course at Berklee College of Music exploring the technology and aesthetics of pairing food with sound, and students presented their final projects in one of Quique Dacosta’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Ben is currently working on a new food opera to be presented by St. Paul-based new music ensemble Zeitgeist in May 2016. For more food opera, see Ben’s TEDx Berklee Valencia presentation.
About Ben Houge
Composer, digital media artist, and video game developer Ben Houge has long been exploring the intersections of divergent disciplines. Highlights from his twenty-year career in the game industry include serving as audio director of Tom Clancy’s EndWar (2008) and composing the celebrated soundtrack for Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura (2001). His performances, sound art, and generative video have been presented internationally, most recently at Boston’s ILLUMINUS Festival, Music Acoustica in Beijing, and, in collaboration with acclaimed dance group New Movement Collective, at Southbank Centre in London. In 2012 he was a visiting artist at MIT, and he currently teaches iPad programming and digital narrative at Berklee College of Music, having just returned to Boston after two years helping to launch a new master’s program in music technology at Berklee’s new campus in Valencia. More information is available at www.benhouge.com.