The third and final year of Ferment was entirely virtual. This led to opportunities to try new things and difficulties when dealing with a diverse group of creators who hadn’t had a chance to connect in-person. New Not Normal continued to be the home for residencies, events, workshops, and connections during a period of forced isolation.
Fermentation is a practice known in most cultures. Ultimately, fermentation serves five basic purposes: to provide greater diversity of flavors, aromas, and textures; to preserve food for later use; to increase the health benefits of a food or drink; to get rid of anti-nutrients, and to reduce the need for cooking and the associated need for fuel.
Ferment therefore became a useful metaphor for the work we are trying to do.
- To increase the diversity of stories available to us to make sense of the world.
- To preserve stories and ways of knowing so that they are not lost to future generations.
- To offset the trend toward algorithmic optimization of culture at the expense of the hard work and education required to develop personal taste.
- To offer time and support to approaches that the market might not currently support
- To accelerate projects that disrupt how we deal with massive problems affecting us and subsequent generations
While Ferment as a year-long container for cultural producers was discontinued, the model was carried forward into Ferment AI, a residency that convened creators around the issues of materiality, relationality, and sociality of algorithmic systems.