REFLECTION: SUBJECT: Time: An Investigation into Food Decay

 Looking back at my subject work, I have really worked out of my comfort zone and steered away from the work I would typically create. When thinking about time as a brief, I instantly thought about things changing over time. After coming across Sam Taylor Wood’s “Still life” piece, I embarked on working on artistically portraying an investigation into food decay. I have used physical mould and decay as a medium to produce art and I have also tried to replicate the look of mould using mixed media techniques. I have enjoyed using materials that are not typically for use within art, like sugar and cotton wool and it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is how you use an d manipulate the material you are working with that creates successful art work, not the material itself.

I think the bread filled perspex box that I have produced is particularly successful because it gives me and the viewer an insight into how things decay. We would not usually leave bread to decay for that long in our households and so it allows others to see the colours that moulds produce and the hidden beauty of the natural things that we take for granted or find repulsive. I also feel that my photographs and video of my decaying art piece are particularly successful as they accurately capture change and decay over time. Also, visually beautiful photographs have been captured even though they are portraying something repulsive. I do wish that I could have left the piece to decay for longer but I simply did not have the facilities to do so safely. My experimentation with photo montage produced interesting outcomes and highly unusual subject matter to paint from. Working with Petri Dishes was a success in my eyes as they gave clarity and added a sense of realism to the fake mould that I had painted within them. It also encourages people to question what they think they see. I have never really worked with 3D or sculpture before and I think that my sculptural final piece for this project is a success. It is visually appealing and there is a strange juxtaposition going on between the perfectly formed fruit and the fake decay mouldy looking exterior.

Looking back, I do not feel that the coloured mould experiments I produced were particularly successful. I feel that they don’t really fit in with the rest of the work made within this project and that they almost look to appealing to the eye and no longer look mouldy or as if they are portraying decay. Filling perspex boxes with vegetables and fruits and photographing them was also unsuccessful as when the foods decayed they leaked liquids that the boxes simply couldn’t contain. They also attracted bugs and fruit flies and I had to get rid of them in fear of my health and the welfare of other students that were working near my desk.

In conclusion, I feel I have managed to create a substantial investigation into food decay inspired by a variety of artists and full of experimentation with materials and techniques. I think I have managed to capture a frozen moment in the decay process using artist materials a well as portraying how decay develops over time through 3D work and photography. I have analysed whether this body of work can be considered art and decided that setting is incredibly important in this. I have successfully created two final pieces that definitely demonstrate an investigation into food decay and worked with a subject that I feel has shown me and others that there are fascinating things out there that on a daily basis we take for granted.

 


SUBJECT: Final Piece: Decaying Sculpture: Fruit Bowl

 Within the Subject module that I have been undertaking, I have been looking at two elements of food decay: The growth of Decay and its Documentation over time and producing fake mould that captures a frozen moment within the decay process. I have worked with the juxtaposition of the pretend and reality and tried to portray something that people consider to be horrible as more beautiful and accepted.

For this Final Piece, I have worked with the idea of capturing a frozen moment, after perfecting the look of producing fake mould through the use of sugar, paint, cotton wool, modelling paste etc. I have decided to use that skill to consolidate my findings and produce a 3D sculptural outcome.

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The Initial Inspiration for this projects subject matter was a video piece called “Still Life” by Sam Taylor Wood. This piece documents the decay of a fruit bowl and in detail portrays how it decays over a period of time. Without coming across this time-lapse, I don’t think I would have embarked on this project and so it seemed fitting that as a final piece, I make a response to this video piece. In Sam’s work, She has captured how the fruit bowl changes over time, I have juxtaposed my work with this by almost producing a still of mould and decay overtaking a fruit bowl.

There is interesting ideas at work within this piece, there is a strange juxtaposition between the perfectly formed fruit and the replica mould that appears to be incredibly far in the decay process. I believe that this piece consolidates the findings of this project and brings together what I have been experimenting with and learning both conceptually and practically. In terms of concept and what I have learnt in my investigation into food decay, this piece highlights the fact that in the right setting, even mould and decay and be appealing and can be a piece of art. It makes people consider it as a piece of art and I think in doing so would and could make some of the public more open-minded about the art world.

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In think this piece is successful in portraying the beauty of things that typically we would overlook. It makes you want to look at the colours and textures that I have created to replicate mould and from talking to my peers at first it initially makes the viewer wonder what they are looking at and confuses the mind. In my opinion, the piece is quite visually beautiful. I also think it is successful in creating a strong juxtaposition between the perfectly formed fruit and the mouldy exterior. Furthermore, this is a still life, capturing a still of decay and replicating something that would in nature change over time. I think this piece is highly successful in showing what I have learnt, How I have acquired this knowledge and what it has been inspired by. It is almost a homage to Sam Taylor Wood’s work and there is a direct opposition between our concepts. This piece brings an end to my subject module. As well as documenting decay, making people question reality and consider mould as art, I believe it is a visually appealing sculptural piece that encourages people to consider mould as an art medium. Even though it is not created from real mould and decay, for a moment it makes people wonder whether it is and broadens their horizons. I think it shows people how much beauty you can miss and makes you consider that things as simple as some mould on a yoghurt in the fridge can be attractive and how much we miss out on and take for granted.

Undertaking this project has opened my mind into what I take for granted in nature and has given me the opportunity to document and notice changes undergone during Food Decay myself and to produce art in response to what I see and think about visually.

Because this is a final piece, I wanted it to look  polished and finalized. I decided to photograph is professionally with lighting and a grey gradient background to achieve shadows and to show the details of the piece on camera.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed this project, The work I have created within it is not typically the kind of work I would usually create and so it has been incredibly interesting to work out of my comfort zone and I have learnt a lot about myself as an artist and as a person.


UPDATE: THE CHANGES OF MY MOULDING PETRI DISH ART WORK

Within my subject module, as things physically change over time, it is highly important to document the developments of my work and take photographs of things that have moulded. Here are some images of my moulding Petri Dish artwork, It has demonstrated the juxtaposition between real mould changing over time and the mould that I created being a frozen moment in time highly accurately. The Fake moulding dishes have not changed but that cannot be said for the real moulds.

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With this Idea, I wanted to portray the concept of the juxta position and relationship between real and fake moulds. I also wanted to portray the fact that the things we throw away and take for granted i.e. moulding food can be art and can be seen in a different light. It is so interesting to see how these litle petri dishes have changed over the christmas holiday and it is a shame that we miss a lot by ignoring it or in this case, binning it before it gets to this stage. Below are some particularly interesting dishes and changes that have occured:

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In this project, I set out to investigate and capture food decay, I wanted to create an interesting art project and pieces that is not typical or usually thought of as art. I think I have definitely been successful in adhereing to both of these goals within this piece and the whole body of work that I have created.

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I have captured decay that we wouldn’t usually get to see and I have used mould to create art pieces, I have also reigned my ideas in from watching things mould and created fake moulds using art materials and paints. Juxtaposing these two elements within this piece has brought my project together and makes it feel a lot more consolidated as a whole. I will continue to work with these ideas and think about reflecting and discussing whether I consider my work to be art at all. 


Investigation into Food Decay – Influential Artist, Photographer and Microbiologist

“As far as artistic  methods go, it’s certainly creative. A photographer, and former microbiologist,  has worked out how to make portraits by growing strategically placed bacteria  cultures.

Zachary Copfer  developed the technique, which he dubs ‘bacteriography’, using photographs of  famous faces such as Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and telescopic images of  the Milky Way.

It works by taking  a bacteria such as E.coli, turning it into a fluorescent protein and spreading  it across a plate.

A negative of the  photograph is then layered on top of the plate and exposed to radiation with the  bacteria growing up in strategic places to bring out the image. It is then  coated in acrylic and resin.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204850/Portraits-famous-faces-created-petri-dishes-artist-using-bacteria.html

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This is highly influential to my food decay over time project as like me, here is an artist creating art from mould and being inspired by Decay. I saw this artists work after creating my petri dish piece and thought it was highly interesting. It is amazing that he has figured out a way to control the mould to make it produce portraits. This contrasts with my work because I am letting the mould itself create elements of my project, where as he is guiding the mould to create specific things. It is interesting, the artistic possibilities that emerge from something that is commonly taken for granted or used for a far different purpose.


UPDATE: The Decay of Bread and Teabags in Perspex Boxes: 4 months

My moulding perspex box sculptural pieces are becoming even more interesting. I have never left items to go mouldy for this long before. It has been about 4 months now, you would never leave bread for example to mould for that long in your household fridge or home cupboards. Below are some images i’ve taken of the boxes at this stage in their progression.

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The tea bags seem to have reached a stage where they are not moulding rapidly anymore. They have a furry exterior developing on them and a greeny tinge growing on the bags but this hasn’t progressed as quickly as it was in the last three weeks. The bread box is a highly successful piece, it continues to mould day by day, it is no longer even recognisable as piece of bread, what has suprised me most that I never predicted would happen is the amount that it has shrunk within the box. There is an aray of texture and colour developing on the bread, the yellow spots are particularly interesting and an unusal surface is developing. I will continue to document these boxes and blog more stages of their moulding until my final assessment.


FINAL PIECE: PETRI DISH ARTWORK: The Real and the Not Real…

The initial inspiration for this final piece using petri dishes to create an art piece was a mug I forgot about that still have some tea in it. After I eventually remembered about it the bottom had started to mould and reminded me of how a sample in a petri dish sometimes looks. I instantly thought about the more scientific side to things decaying and started to work on how I could incorporate Petri Dishes into an art piece. Below is an image of the mug that inspired this thought.

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I immediately got hold of some petri dishes and started filling them with things that would decay over time, like bread, milk, yoghurt, tea, juice and combinations of two or more of these ingredients. I wanted to see how they moulded in a dish with little air and different conditions to how I have moulded things before. At this point, I was not really sure how I was going to use these pieces to create an art piece but I was confident that eventually I would. Below are images of some of the petri dishes before and after they have started to mould. Some of them have become very interesting objects and will continue changing over time but I did not feel that displaying these objects alone as art was enough.

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I decided to paint the inside of some more petri dishes with fake mould to create a juxtaposition between the real and the not real. This idea was inspired by Vija Celmins “to fix the image in memory” which plays with post perspective by asking what is real? In this work, there are two rocks, one is real and one is an imitation.  There is the same principle as a hall of mirrors. This undoes the notion of realistic artwork because we have no idea which one is art.

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To fix the image in memory series – Vija Celmin

Creating real and fake moulding petri dishes and displaying them altogether does make the viewer ask themselves which ones are art? Are they all art, as one piece? Are the petri dishes miniature paintings or symbols of decay? that is up to you. By doing this, I have tried to show a juxtaposition between things changing over time (real mould) and preserving time or capturing a moment in the decay process (fake mould). Interesting things are happening when displaying these two notions together. In my opinion the piece that I have created from petri dishes is one of my most successful.

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“Petri Dish Artwork”

The juxtaposition between the real and the fake within decay is something I have explored over and over throughout the project and I feel that this piece sums up my findings accurately which is why I chose to display it as a final outcome. Also, it almost bridges a gap between science and art and I like how it looks aesthetically. It will be interesting to see how the real Petri dishes mould over time and how they look in relation to the ones I have painted. It is interesting that this final piece will continue to decay.


Artist relevant to my work: ELLEN ALTFEST

ELLEN ALTFEST – American Artist (Born 1970)

“With exquisite attention to the minutest details, Ellen Altfest produces naturalistic paintings that transform humble or intimate subjects—like houseplants, gourds, rotting items or a man’s underarm—into evocative, psychologically loaded objects that almost exceed realism”.  American artist Ellen Altfest exploits the full potential of green in many of her paintings, as you can see in this nuanced image, here to create the image of moulding or decay.

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When I first saw these two pieces, I thought they were paintings but they are infact woodblock prints. She has managed to make them look so textural without them actually being textural. The works accurately captures the decay of the object but are also beautiful pieces. This is a challenging element to achieve.

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Green Gourd, 2007 – 18 colour woodblock print on Japan MM7 Kozo paper

 Ellen’s work inspires me to think about textures when creating works to do with mould and decay and to think about how varied the colour palette of mould actually is. In my opinion, Ellen Altfest’s moulding food paintings are beautiful. They capture exactly what most of us take for granted and make something normally considered repulsive have a sense of beauty and therefore she is highly relevant to my project on decay.


DANIELE DEL NERO: HIGHLY INSPIRATIONAL DECAYING BUILDINGS

Whilst exploring decay as an art from across the internet, I came across an article (link below) entitled “ARTIST USES MOULD TO CREATE DECAYED ARCHITECTURAL MODELS” and was obviously instantly interested.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-11/30/mould-art

Artist Daniele Del Nero creates architectural scale models of buildings and then dampens the exterior of the structure and applies a thin dusting of flour. The model is then placed into a transparent case, which relates to my moulding perspex boxes. Mould starts to grow after a couple of days and dies within two weeks, leaving behind what the artist has described as “a dusty spider-web which covers the model like a rambler plant“.

Like me with my actual moulding artwork , He avoids having direct contact with the mould, removing the cover over the models only to photograph them. He has also related Food Decay to the Decay of the world in a way like I have. This is highly related to me using mould to show pollution and climate change in my factory piece. I have mentioned in my reflective journal a few times about how mould and decay can relate to the end of the world or its breakdown, I appear to have found an artist that feels the same way. He states “We are used to imagining our cities as permanent and definitive, but it’s amazing how little time it takes for nature to reclaim its spaces.”

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These works are AMAZING, they are definitely my favourite works out of all the other artists I’ve come across that use mould to create art. The photographs are beautiful as well as the pieces themselves. His work encourages me experiment with getting a more professional photo of my perspex boxes and other moulding objects as I don’t feel these would look as successful without the high level of photography and dark background. There is something very eery about these pieces, but I absolutely love them. Daniele Del Nero’s work is without a doubt a success. He wanted to “reproduce in small-scale the particular sensation of being in a lonely, abandoned place” and I feel he has without a doubt achieved this. He is a massive inspiration to me right now and his work definitely makes me want to experiment with creating 3D works and to use mould to create a certain feeling or atmosphere.


Does the Colour of Food Mould and Decay Add to the Stereotypical Repulsion of it?

DOES THE COLOUR OF MOULD ADD TO THE HUMAN REPULSION OF IT?
IF IT WAS A DIFFERENT COLOUR, WOULD IT BE LESS REPULSIVE AND THEREFORE MORE ATTRACTIVE?
IF YOUR FOOD SUDDENLY DECAYED IN BRIGHT, APPEALING COLOURS WOULD YOU BE LESS DISGUSTED BY IT?
These are some of the questions I asked myself when producing this series of six different coloured moulding canvases.

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To me, It is obvious which one of these paintings looks like mould because of its colour!

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In these six pieces, I have experimented with making mould in exactly the same way as I have in past replica moulding canvases. However, here I have painted them in more attractive colours as well as the stereotypical greeny brown colour that mould is. The textures and materials used are exactly the same in all of the pieces but the colour of the pieces definitely change how you think about them and their visual appearance a lot. In my opinion, this set of six as individual pieces and as a piece as a whole are highly successful.

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Although all of the pieces are incredibly interesting, THE GREEN COLOURED CANVAS IS THE ONLY ONE THAT REALLY LOOKS LIKE IT COULD BE MOULD. Therefore, the colour of mould DOES effect our ability to identify it and our repulsion of it. The fact that colour affects how we associate and see things is an interesting concept indeed.  My experimentation here was a success and my assumption turned out to be correct, colour is a massive contributing factor to our understanding of what something is or what something looks like.


Mould can Damage Artwork as Well as Create It! – Leonardo Da Vinci, Self Portrait

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165248/Fears-famous-Leonardo-da-Vinci-self-portrait-poor-condition-restore.html

Leonardo Da Vinci’s self-portrait is a prime example of how mould can damage artwork. As stated in an article written by the daily mail (link above), art experts fear that its days on show are numbered as its exposure to the elements on one of those occasions has left it covered in mould and what they call “foxing” and in too poor a condition to restore.

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Here we have a strong juxtaposition between the idea that mould can create art but also damage and eventually destroy it. This is a concept that I could work with to create artwork by drawing something and covering it some kind of food material that will grow mould and therefore damage it.  I could also combine paint with food items in a piece to give the impression that mould was damaging artwork but it would actually be creating it. It is a shame that one of the works from a great master such as Da Vinci is decaying over time but it is also very influential to my work and encourages to think about using this juxtaposition to create art within my project.