Yum! Super Ramen!

“Irasshaimase! Welcome to Super Ramen!” That’s what the tinny voice is going to say. From the loudspeakers. When you enter Super Ramen. It’s a Ramen Restaurant in the Plaza. Which I want to open.The mandate of Super Ramen is to maximize the throughput of noodles – and to maximize consumer utility, naturally! The experience is streamlined and joyful.

There are vending machines outside Super Ramen that you may use to make your order. Using the screen, choose whether you’ll make your ramen bowl spicy or not. Then insert your credit card. You’ll get a ticket stub with a QR code on it. Where’s your credit card? You’ll get it back when you finish. Enjoy!

When a stool in the restaurant frees up, go and sit down. Scan your ticket. A slot will open in the counter in front of you and your bowl of hot ramen will pop out. It’s delicious because it was made by robots. Filling!

The real game-changer in the process of consuming ramen noodles is the assymetric discounting-incentive algorithm. The reason you don’t have your credit card back yet is the price of your ramen has not yet been decided! The optimal time to finish a bowl of ramen (from the perspective of the throughput of the system and provincial health regulations) has been emprically discovered to be 3.5 minutes. Eat the whole bowl in less than 3.5 minutes, it’s yours free. If you finish your bowl within 30 seconds of that, you’ll receive a 75% discount.

Now, the discount decreases by 15% every 15 seconds after 4 minutes. It gets interesting after 5 minutes because you no longer receive a discount. In fact, we start charging you a premium. Every extra minute adds 50% to the price! Thrilling!

We know you’ve finished because we know the weight of the empty bowl and there is an ABSOLUTELY NO IDLE STANDING RULE. Default pricing is based on the average final price that week. It’s collaborative! Be sure to go on a cold week during midterms! C-C-C-COMBO!

Take your ticket stub and scan out to get your credit card back. Return to what you were doing before, tummy full. Another great feature you enjoyed while speed dining at Super Ramen was the gifs. Yes, that’s right. Every surface in Super Ramen is either a screen – or a mirror! And all the screens play gifs! Gifs randomly harvested from every corner of the internet – even the dirty bits. You just never know where the next Super Ramen experience will take you.

So Super Ramen isn’t so much a business. Truth is it’s more of an art project. Super Ramen is representative of the type of art I would like to see supported at uWaterloo. Art is a way of understanding the world and the relation of things in it. It helps us examine ourselves and what we create in a different light- play with the extreme possiblities both positive and negative. We need more art that explores the tropes of uWaterloo – optimization, commerce, digital media, quantification, experiential “x”, the tech world, videogames and startups. Preferably stuff that integrates all of it.

Different media offer different strengths of exploration and criticism. Conceptual art, digital sculpture, procedural art, and art as business are some ideas for what the Waterloo scene could be. We need art in dialogue with theory and practice to help us reflect. We need a lot more of it to keep us honest.

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