Sunday, September 1, 2013

FOOD AS ART: BROCCOLI, BODIES AND THE WORK OF CARL WARNER

When I was but a Yankee lad I used to pretend I was a colossus of some sort whenever my mother made me eat broccoli. I would pull the "trees" from the ground, roots and all, and bring them up to my giant, gaping mouth. That was among my first bouts of creativity with food.

Photo courtesy of Google Images (/broccoli_tree)*
Years later I would stage and record the Food Wars, brought to life through the excruciating medium and format of stop-motion animation. I did not take photos like many do to create such an illusion. No, I kept the camera running for each extended sequence and in post I cut any frames with my hand out and left only a couple frames worth of each positioning that I wanted. It made shooting breezy (relatively speaking for stop-motion filmmaking) but it made editing a splicing nightmare. Well, here's the result of that endeavor (I actually ended up using it for my final project in my History of Creativity class at BYU, citing references to The Three Musketeers and what not... I got an A): 



The bastards that be have muted this and Episode IV. Must be for the John Williams' Star Wars theme I put at the beginning. Might re-upload sometime and cite fair use for educational purposes. The rest of the music was original tinkerings assembled from the tracks on GarageBand. For whatever reason it appears to have become my most viewed YouTube video, which is pathetically low at some 1,400. There must be another type of "food war" that's dragging mine in tow for online searches.

The broccoli and Food Wars came to my mind this morning after I first saw the work of Carl Warner, particularly his Foodscape series. The London-based artist worked as an advertisement photographer before wanting to attempt something different. When shopping at the supermarket one day "he found some wonderful Portabello mushrooms which he thought looked like some kind of tree from an alien world. So he took them back to his studio with a few other ingredients such as rice seeds and beans with a view to try and create a miniature scene on a table top." (Source) And with that, Mushroom Savanna became his first of many Foodscapes:


Mushroom Savanna

Peruse the Foodscape portfolio for yourself to see more of Carl's astonishing work. Here are some that especially stood out to me:

Cheesescape

Meat Factory

Stilton Cottage

Volcano Valley

Cowboy Valley

Chinese Junk

The Great Wall of Pineapple

2001 a Breadscape


Lettuce Sea

Cabbage Seascape


I could very easily post them all, rather, I encourage you to look at them all. Using only foods provides a vast color palette that is manufactured by nature herself. In all of the above (sans Volcano Valley) you have civilization, small or large, living on the land. But their structures, even the Meat Factory, do not feel to encroach or otherwise pollute. It's an ideal and fantastical situation, perfect for a photograph - otherwise all plucked would spoil. Warner has taken the age-old tradition of Gingerbread houses and widened his scope of possibilities almost infinitely.

Candy Cottage

A few peaks behind the scenes:



Warner's first book, Food Landscapes, is currently on sale over at Amazon.


It all reminds me of another book we've had on our wish-list for some time, Microworlds.


Pick the other areas of Carl Warner's peanutty brain (gosh, I love his website design too), he actually has a series of Otherscapes:

Iron Temples

Shoulder Hills

Warner's Bodyscapes series was my first exposure to his work. It instantly reminded me of a picture by Liu Wei, a Chinese photographer:

Landscape
Landscape by Liu Wei (2004)*
Does a cannibal look at this the way we look at Warner's Foodscapes?

You never know what will inspire you, Portabello mushrooms or broccoli, some other food or body part, or otherwise.

Broccoli Forest

Here's Warner working on the set for Lettuce Seascape:


Until next time, keep putting a frame around all you see.

*All other photos courtesy of CarlWarner.com, Amazon.com and BoredPanda.com.

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