With Halloween just around the corner, costumes don’t have to be the only spooky things you you do to celebrate the holiday. We’ve been introduced to the lifelike, creepy cakes of Conjurer’s Kitchen, and they aren’t the only ones turning delicious treats into something sinister. So, here are a couple of other food artists having some ghoulish fun with conventional desserts.
Christine McConnell is an artist, photographer, and baker who makes elaborate delicacies like screamberries, a life-sized facehugger pastry, and chocolate-covered spiders. The details on these foods are incredible and so convincing that they don’t appear like they’re edible (though they are!). But, they look so impressive that you wouldn’t want to. (via Who Killed Bambi and Laughing Squid)
Ruth & Sira created their own version of the sugar skull by opening the top of the heads and sticking things like berries, nuts, and gummies. The walnuts look like a strange, dried-up brains while they’ve also created the more traditional-looking organs. Their creations look very sweet, and easy to pop skull after skull (as strange as that sounds) into your mouth. (via Who Killed Bambi and Boing Boing)
San Francisco-based artist and designer Wei Li is making tasty treats with unpalatable connotations. Would you lick a cactus? Suck on a virus? Would just the idea of it change your experience of a dessert? In “Dangerous Popscicle” Li makes desserts in the shape of cacti, MRSA, influenza, chicken pox, escherichia coli and HIV from just water, sugar and coloring. To make the popsicles, Li created a series of one and two part silicone molds modeled in Rhino and printed on an Objet 3d printer. She writes on her website bold or italic:
“What will happen when we put these dangerous things on one of our most sensitive organs, our tongues? Does pain really bring pleasure? Is there beauty in user-unfriendly things?
Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.”
There are inherent contradictions in this project—the colors of the items look delicious, but the subject is unappetizing, but the surface is pleasingly tactile, but the structure is painful.
Aside from making the molds and freezing the pops, Li is also interested in the social interaction this project fosters. How do people react to the frozen unsavories? Try it yourself—find directions on how to make this project at Instructables. (via The Creator’s Project)
Russian self-taught photographer Dina Belenko creates alluring still life images which she calls “photoillustrations”. Combining creative and well arranged compositions with photography and a little bit of photo manipulation skills, Belenko creates beautiful food photography starring various inanimate objects: food products, utensils and other props.
According to the photographer, “every object around us keeps our emotions, expectations, feelings”, thus photographing things and capturing their soul can be equated to making powerful human portraits. To create her daydream-like photographs, Belenko uses simple everyday materials: sugar cubes, coffee, paper cutouts, clay models, etc. To get more exquisite accessories, like dentistry or jewelry tools, she delves into old closets or visits flea markets.
Belenko also feels the need to manifest the possibilities behind still life photography. According to her, it is one of the least popular genres in Russia, mostly pictured as a boring composition of flowers and fruits.
“I prefer still life because the role of chance is incredibly limited here. You may feel as a director <…> Each failure is your own failure, but every victory is also completely yours.”
Belenko is participating in an ongoing project called “An Endless Book”. Each week, participants have to upload an artwork under a self-selected topic. At the end of 2015, a huge panoramic image will be made featuring all of their works. You can read more about it at the official website.
In his ongoing project “Mystery Meat”, Texas-born visual artist Peter Augustus explores the disconnect between mass-produced foods and their “natural”, unprocessed form. Augustus’ photo series depicts various fast food dainties with their ingredients stripped down to their primal state: chicken nuggets to chicken feet, BLT to pork legs, etc.
The idea for the project was born after Augustus moved to Hong Kong where he currently resides. Artist was fascinated by the local meat shops, exposing various animal parts to their customers. He claims that Westerners are rarely in touch with “anything that even closely represents what kind of animals we are eating”. Most often, we purchase processed, prepackaged and showcased meat products without even knowing the real source.
The deeper and more disturbing side to Augustus’ work is the very notion of “mystery meat”. What is often marketed as 100 percent meat product, in reality comprises of various contents. The gruesome trend of intransparency is especially present in fast food market.
“I hope to cause the viewer to take into account what the natural form of their food looks like. I think the work highlights a number of important debates, and it is not meant to be repulsive — just to raise awareness. It also touches on the longstanding debate of the quality of chicken and meat products and the use of unnatural fillers and hormones in the animal products we eat daily.”
Kim Burke’s miniature food sculptures are so realistic you’ll want to eat them in one bite. Inspired by the photorealist movement, Burke creates flawless dollhouse-scale meals from actual photographs, positioned at various angles for maximum accuracy. Each plate of food, so small as to be balanced on a human fingertip, is carefully rendered from clay using needles, razor blades, and a rock for texture. Chalk pastels add color. For cake frosting, Burke uses Translucent Liquid Sculpey mixed with solid clay. The artist’s company, Fairchild Art, offers a range of plates, from sweet to savory dishes, each at a 1:12 scale.
Burke’s passion for dollhouse accessories began as a hobby in 2008, but soon blossomed into what she calls an “obsession.” The work is painstaking and each piece typically requires one to three hours of full concentration, but the result is well worth it. She says of her process, “every time I make something new I always try to add something extra to make it even look more real.”
Decadent and indulgent, Burke’s tiny masterpieces combine the sensuousness of a Caravaggio painting with the whimsy of childhood play. Like Caravaggio’s Still Life with Fruit, each piece is entirely inedible yet invites a mouthwatering appetite. Burke’s delicate fruit baskets emerge like Eden’s forbidden fruit in miniature, igniting the imagination and uninhibited delight. Poignantly small, they remind us of the preciousness of our humanity. When seen on a plate the size of a penny, the most familiar food stuffs become miraculous and spellbinding. Made with tender love and care, the diminutive plates suggest our own fragilities and vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via Demilked)
For the Turkish artist Hasan Kale, the tiniest morsel of food inspires visions of sweeping landscapes. Using his finger as a palate, he adorns almonds, M&Ms, and the most translucent layers of an onion with astonishing renderings of his native Istanbul. Where most landscapes take up entire museum walls, commanding attention with their sheer immensity, Kale’s work does the opposite. In these miraculous works of macro painting, the infinite nature of the earth, sea, and sky collides with the impossibly minuscule, heightening the preciousness of the Turkish terrain.
Here, snack foods become as wondrous as great feats of nature and man. On thin slice of banana, a storm rages, its brushstrokes transforming the very texture of the fruit into that of a saturated canvas. On the inner flesh of an almond, he imagines the legendary baroque architecture of the Nusretiye Mosque. The iconic building becomes vertically stretched as in a romantic masterpiece, extending upwards to conform to the natural shape of the almond. On these tiny surfaces, the grandiosity of the city’s architecture is expressed through the vibrancy of color and the dreamy, sweeping whims of the artist’s brush.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of Kale’s work is its impermanence. Unlike the great canvases entombed in museums, these paintings will decay, perish, or be lost. The banana will rot into mush; the fragile quail egg might crumble. A stunning mosque might accidentally be eaten. But in the meantime, these imagined landmarks exist for the sake of our wonderment. Take a look. (via Colossal)
Talk about impressive craftsmanship. In a stunning feat of virtuosity, the Chinese artist Ch’en Tsu-chang carved an astoundingly complex scene into a single olive pit in the year 1737. The tiny sculpture is complete with eight exquisite human figures enjoying a serene ride in the furnished interior of a boat with movable windows. To construct the piece, the artist, hailing from Kwangtung and having entered into the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture during the reign of emperor Yung-cheng, allowed his eye and hand to be guided by the natural shape of the olive pit.
Measuring 1.34 inches in length and .63 inches in height, the work was inspired by a poem titled “Latter Ode on the Red Cliff,” written by Su Tung-p’o some six hundred and fifty years before; it depicts the poet and his seven companions on one of his two journeys to Red Nose Cliff, the site of an epic battle that proceeded the poet-official by eight hundred years. On the helm of the boat, the artist meticulously engraved 300 characters from the beloved poem, whose moving lines served as an artistic theme well into the Qing Dynasty. Somehow, the delicate and intricate composition elevates the epic subject matter, making it all the more precious and highlighting its worth as a narrative worth careful representation. What better way to honor a poem about a natural landscape than by rendering its speaker in an organic substance?
Beyoncé Knowles – “Master cleanse diet,” lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, and laxative herbal tea
Bill Clinton – “Cabbage diet,” cabbage soup, mixed with other vegetables.
Luigi Cornaro – “Sober Life,” fifteenth-century Venetian nobleman, 400ml of solid food or eggs and 500ml wine.
Lord Byron – “Romantic poet’s diet,” potatoes in vinegar and soda water.
Whether you find it oddly comforting or just downright strange, fad diets have existed long before our time. Photographer Dan Bannino documents the temporary eating habits of celebrities as far back as Henry VIII and as recent as Beyonce. He goes beyond simple tablet settings, however, and crafts moody, rich-looking scenes that are luscious in their color and texture. Bannino describes the inspiration for his series entitled Still Diet, writing:
With this series my aim was to capture the beauty that lies in this terrible constriction of diets and deprivation, giving them the importance of an old master’s painting. I wanted to make them significant, like classic works of arts that are becoming more and more weighty as they grow older. My aim was to show how this weirdness hasn’t changed even since the 15th century. (Via Artnet)