Oh, Vienna... Home of the pastry gods, of tiny little sausages, of killer cake-decorating robots.
The above picture is of an automatic cake frosting robot created by the Vienna-based studio mischer'traxler for an "experimental series" entitled, "'til you stop - how much is enough." What it does is fairly simple: it continues frosting a cake for you until you tell it to stop.
But here's the thing... With that kind of power in your hands, who in their right mind would ever tell the robot to stop?Let me tell you a story...
A long time ago, I worked in a small neighborhood pizza joint. One of the perks of this job was getting to make my own pizzas for myself at the end of the night. I could do whatever I wanted with this pie--put whatever I wanted on it, bake it just how I liked. I was completely free to mess it up however I chose.
What's the most important part of a pizza? The crust, obviously. But the best part of a pizza is the cheese, so my thinking at the time was, the more cheese the better. First couple pies I made for myself? They were groaning under the weight of cheese I loaded onto them. If a double-cheese pizza is good, I figured, then a triple or quadruple-cheese pizza would be even better, so that was what I made.
Unsurprisingly, these pizzas were terrible. Virtually inedible. And I learned a very important lesson in restraint and self-control.
Namely, that they are for pussies.
In my mind, it wasn't the amount of cheese that was the problem, but some fundamental fault in the way I was adding it. I knew that there had to be a way where I could get my overdose-level cheese fix without ruining the pie. And for a long time, I worked on this--experimenting with multiple layers of cheese, with different spread-patterns, with alternate cooking times.
And while I never di find a way to make a pizza that was both edible and completely buried in cheese, it never once occurred to me that sheer volume could be the problem. If I were dealing with a cheese-adding pizza robot, I would've simply never told it to stop.
And this is my concern about the Viennese cake experiment. Frosting is awesome, right? I mean, if sugar is your thing, then how can there possibly be an upper limit--a point at which you have had too much sugar? So if your fat ass is suddenly planted before a robot which will continue adding frosting (and tiny silver dragees) to a cake until you say, "enough," won't you just let said frosting robot go until either A) it runs out of frosting, or B) the entire thing collapses under the sheer weight of royal icing?
Obviously, I am one of those in the extreme upper demographic of the mischer'traxler "experiment" and should probably stay out of Vienna for the time being. I already know what would happen if I was put in charge of this robot. Before long, someone would find me, splayed out on the rotating cake turntable with my mouth open, just letting the frosting gun pump me full of sugar until I died.
This quirk of my personality, by the way, is why I quit doing drugs. And why I stay away from those "make your own pizza" kits at the grocery store.
You can read more about the specifics of the "'til you stop" project at the mischer'traxler website, and see some better pictures of the cake robot (plus adorable grandmas!) in action at designboom.com.