The Universal Raisin Cake Theory


Offset print unfolded poster: 20 x 15 inches folded box: 6.5 x 9 x 2


The Universal Raisin Cake Theory is an artists' book in the form of a cake mix box inspired by a passage from Peterson's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. This passage comparing the expansion of the universe to a giant loaf of raisin bread rising struck a chord with me - the idea that the entire universe can be explained using something as simple and commonplace as bread is, to me, a great example of how to make science not only accessible and comprehensible, but quite literally digestible as well!

Sonic Fabric is an audible textile woven from cassette tape that has been recorded with a range of sounds and music collected from around the world. Examples of works made from this material are used as PHILOSOPROPS (a descriptive term invented by Alyce) to start discussions about the properties of sound, the inherent sonic nature of matter, and ways that sound can be made visible.  In our workshops, we listen to and discuss the sounds contained in various editions of SONIC FABRIC, and demonstrate its audible properties using a “reader” made from a hacked personal cassette player.

Alyce Santoro

Alyce Santoro

My name is Alyce Santoro, and I am an interdisciplinary conceptual and sound artist with degrees in both art and science. I worked as an oceanographic research assistant for several years while earning a graduate degree in scientific illustration. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to make art about science...though now I use lots of mediums aside from drawing (such as sound, video, sculpture, and writing) in my "illustrations".

Stemarts Design Tool

Explore the site to come up with your idea. Pick an artist or topic.

This artist is one of 20 ISEA2012 artists featured in this curriculum. Explore them all to see which you would like to use as a model for your project. It could be a combination of different artists and topics that inspire the work. Print out the STEMArts Design Tool which outlines these steps and use it as a guideline in your process. Visit the Wiki-Resource on each artist page to see tutorials, activity ideas, read articles about the medium that the artists explored and other resources to help you find something that peaks your interest. Click on the Artist Interview button on each page to read a personal interview with each artist. The artist was asked questions to share their creative process, talk about the medium they work with, and to share tips and advice for you as you begin your design process. In this phase, you are looking for inspiration for an project that is meaningful to you. Get a journal and start sketching and writing notes on your process.

Brainstorm and come up with ideas for your art piece.

In this phase, you will need to sketch, doodle, contemplate, or journal, in order to start allowing ideas to formulate. Search the Wiki-Resource under keyword "brainstorming" to explore some techniques and articles. The artists in the Artists Interviews also share their personal brainstorming techniques. Read through all these resources and do some research yourself. Then set aside some daydreaming time and get started. Think big and let all the ideas you have hit the page without editing them. Get in the flow and write or draw in a journal any ideas you come up with that you would like to explore further.

How are you going to turn the idea into a reality? Research.

Brainstorming and researching go hand in hand. You will be going back and forth between the two until you come up with a plan. Once you brainstorm some great ideas for an art piece you will need to research to learn more about the topic or medium. In turn, that leads to more brainstorming. How are you going to turn the idea into a reality? What materials do you need? Can you build it yourself or will you need help? In your journal make a list of any questions or concerns that come to mind. Search the Wiki-Resource under the keyword "research tips" for ideas, and explore on your own to find the answers to your questions. If you need to collaborate on this piece, decide who that will be and make plans to work together.

Start your design plan.

You have everything you need now to start creating. Refer to your journal to review your process up until now. Review the STEMArts Design Tool. Research online if you still have a question about anything. Ask your teacher for help. Now, it´s time to make a materials list and sketch out your plan of action. Or perhaps you prefer to dig in and start building something? There are many ways to approach it and every artists has their own style. Each artist shared their own design approach in the interviews. Look back over them and see which approach suits your style. Start creating!

See how it works, test and re-test until you get what you want.

The design process always involves testing out your ideas in the real world, and building prototypes to see if it works. You also may find that once you start building it, it is not what you had in mind. This is part of the process. It helps to document everything you do in your journal. This is the hardest stage because it is easy to get discouraged. Read about what the ISEA2012 artists say about this phase. Ask for help when you need it. If you get stuck, go back to the brainstorming phase for new ideas. Get feedback from your teacher, your friends, and experts. We created a Troubleshooting Guide to help you evaluate and critique your work in case you are stuck on your design.

Practice presenting in order to get feedback for your finished piece.

You have probably explored options for presenting your work but this is the time to work out the details. Your venue will often determine the presentation format. Now is a good time to present your work to friends and peers to get some feedback. Our Feedback Survey poses questions that will help you critique your own work, and provides tips on receiving constructive feedback from others. It will also help to look back on your design process to see if you are where you want to be with your art piece.

STEMarts Wiki

Universal Raisin Cake Theory Wiki-Resource

Search this open source wiki for links to learn more about the type of art, medium and STEM topics  explored in the The Universal Raisin Cake Theory and Sonic Fabric. We suggest starting with making a book using the link that Alyce sent in.  You could make your book about some of the theories or STEM concepts that Alyce’s work explores. This activity not only introduces you to a simple technique for making a book but gives you a way to collect your ideas and what you have learnt artistically.
You will also find links to articles, images, video, tutorials and more to provide a starting point for your research in creating an art piece or project inspired by the The Universal Raisin Cake Theory and Sonic Fabric.

If you have find anything interesting on your own please consider sharing it in this open forum. Remember the resource is an open forum sharing links and ideas that others have found – always check your sources and give credit where credit is due.  The open source movement generously shares its knowledge and relies on users and sharers feedback – so if there’s something really good or doesn’t work let others know.