A still life over breakfast
In Breakfast Still Life by Willem Clasez, the unassuming vessel and its ambiguous contents at the back of the Baroque painting offers a rare parafictional glimpse at an oil-diffusing predecessor to the modern sous vide. The object contained a vase of petal-chambered glass that sat intertwined with an intricate copper base and it’s extended tendrils. The heated copper base was the first of it’s kind to precisely circulate and regulate the temperature of a container’s liquid contents. Careful analysis of early design drawings and modern thermal testing indicates the bouquet of petals often shown resting inside the glass could not have been natural flowers, but were instead petal-like oil dispensers best described as a hybrid between a modern pipette and a reed diffuser. Each had unique proportions and oil capacities to achieve specific effects when diffused individually or as a cocktailed bouquet. Historical users and spectators delighted in transforming a room’s atmosphere through smell, sight, and taste while reaping mystical benefits to health, sleep, good fortune, stress, and well-being.
Kutan Ayata Parafictional Objects Seminar with Paul McCoy
University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design