Thursday, July 17, 2014

Restoring the Balance - The Savory Institute

Processed Views comments on changing landscape and topography brought about by industrial farming and food production. There are signs of positive remedies for destruction on the land.
The African Center for Holistic Management began a project in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe using cattle to reverse the spread of decertification and restores the balance and the fecundity of the land. In lieu of reductionist solutions Holistic Management was developed by Zimbabwean-born ecologist Allan Savory following a lengthy personal search for solutions to the land deterioration occurring in Africa and the human impoverishment that always resulted. Using various capital resources, the Savory Institute has create Grasslands LLC to restore land around worldwide.
See Allan Savory's TED talk about fighting desertification.
zones of decertification -- 2/3 of world's landmass

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers

This collaboration uses Edweard Muybridge's Yosemite photographs as a starting point to engage with geography, ecology, and history, and also with art history.  "Yosemite" Solnit writes, "is a singular place into which are mapped myriad expectations and desires." The panoramas Klett and Wolf created bring many scattered historical moments into one visible present.

Below are passages by Solnit which resonate with our thoughts...

On the nature of collaboration: the nature of collaboration had to do with excepting uncertainty, with letting the process guide discovery....We had to establish the premise that we could accept personal vulnerabilities–-the right to be wrong, to have ideas that wouldn't work or weren't good, to speculate without the fear of feeling foolish. We had to agree to work in an environment of mutual support, mutual success, and to share the responsibility for failure....A collaboration is a boat steered by more than one party, so you don't know exactly where you're heading, or more profoundly it's a boat floating down the shared conversation so that it is, of its essence, improvisational.

On Yosemite--in the context of landscape photography: What places look like is not necessarily what they mean….There has often been a kind of cannibal ferocity in originality, a desire to a race one's parents or teachers, and attempt to shake off the past to reach the future. Rephotography is instead a way to move forward through the past. Yosemite is so far from being a wilderness that it's photographic history is now also it's landscape, and this double terrain is what [Solnit, Klett and Wolf] would explore....What is remarkable about this sort of image saturation in the 1860s and 1870s is that it makes Yosemite Valley into what postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard would describe as "a precession of simulacra": a phenomenon known by its images and representations more than (or rather than) firsthand experience….Yosemite was a realm of aesthetic glories but even more of codifications....The place is turning into it it's portrait, or into someone else's portrait, as though you were made up to resemble your great-grandmother.

Rivers of Time:  Borges spoke of "a growing, dizzying web of divergent, convergent, and parallel times….In most of these those times, we do not exist; in some, you exist but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in other still, we both do." After all, my collaborators added, Photography does not record continuums, but moments; it is not the camera but our imaginations that construct narratives out of these moments.

Klett and Wolf have worked on numerous projects rephotographing historical landscape images:
Rephotography is concerned with two moments in time, but the relationship is not always as simple as a single parent of original and re-photograph might suggest. Rephotography was developed as a technique by scientists, particularly geologists, to study changes in the landscape. The past and the present images of the same place reveal what has happened in the years between, and if the location is exact, the changes – erosion, accretion, a glacier moving or melting, a forest encroaching – can begin to be measured with some precision.... 
Rephotography is a significant research technique, unearthing information about the nature of a place, the passage of time, and the decision of artists available through no other means. It allows changed to be revealed in its particulars, which often contradict the generalizations...
Rephotography did what postmodernism did, and did it early on. It developed a practice that dispenses with the anxious pursuit of originality in favor of a playful but problematic relationship to the past and the ancestors.

The Future: Inspired by Deborah Harry, The Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism, whose "concern about what legacy we will leave to future generations is pragmatic, and it wrestles with science–not the science of observation that prevailed in Yosemite but the science of manipulation intervention. For the science of our time, corporation seem to have replaced religion in giving scientists reasons to reject information or interpreted according to certain premises, and some defenders of the safety of chemicals, drugs, genetic manipulations, and the nonexistence of global warming have a vested interest, though others argue sincerely."

In conclusion:
The most beautiful and wild places can raise questions most intensely, because we value these places not for being independent of us–-that Credo wore out-–but at least for making us only part of a larger order.…You can measure destruction but not glory. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Processed Views Inventory: Just So You Know

 none of these products was consumed,
no creatures were harmed during the construction of Processed Views

Processed Views  “ingredients” for each work
Fruit Loops Landscape
General Mills Trix with Fruitalicious Swirls
Kellogg’s Froot Loops

Blue Dye #1 Precipice
Budget Saver Slushed Monster Pops 
Duncan Hines Blue Velvet Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Frosting
Blue Dye #1  C37H34N2Na2O9S3

Deep Fry Bluffs
OreIda shoestrings
McCain Seasoned Crinkle Cut
Armour Lard
Oscar Meyer Bacon

Monoculture Plains
Corn Flakes
White and Yellow Corn Meal 
Corn, Cobs and Husks

Red Hot Flamin’ Monolith
Jay’s Barbecue Potato Chips
Fritos Corn Chips
O-ke-doke Cheese Flavored Popcorn
Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Puffcorn
Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings (plain and Flamin’ Hot)
Jay’ Hot Stuff Potato Chips
Cheetos Puffs and Flamin’ Hot CrunchyDoritos Nacho Cheese
Mission Party Chips
Krunchers Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
Mission Chicharrones (Pork Rinds)

White Bread Mountain
Bimboo Soft White
Clear Value Round Top White Bread
Roundy’s White Enriched Bread
Roundy’s  Sandwich White Enriched Bread
Sarah Lee White Bread

Cola Sea
Domino Pure Cane Granulated Sugar
Brer Rabbit Molasses
C&H Golden Brown Cane Sugar
C&H  Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
Trust Classic Pure Mishri Sugar
Rock Candy

Marshmallow Chasm
Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows
Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
Trust Classic Pure Mishri Sugar

Saturated Fat Foothills
Full Side Pork Chicharrones
Proscuitto Ham

Moonrise over Balogna
Oscar Mayer Bologna

Interview with Pete Brook: Sugar-Coated, Corn-Fed Dioramas Query Big-Ag’s Food Production and the Naturalness of Landscape

We were thrilled to be interviewed by freelance writer and curator, Pete Brook 
posted on Prison
30 June 2014

Today, June 30th, marks the 150th anniversary of The Yosemite Grant, signed by Abraham Lincoln, putting the protection of Yosemite Valley into the hands of the state of California with ‘the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation, for all of time. The grant was a precursor to land-use-law that later led to the establishment of the National Parks.
There can be no photographer better known for the early exploration of the American West as Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). Nor is there a mid-to-late 19th century photographer (Ansel Adams did his bit later!) who shaped public opinion about natural spaces as much as Watkins.
What would Watkins say about the RVs that roll into Yosemite and Yellowstone each year? What would Watkins say about the monoculture agribusiness that dominates large swathes of the United States’ land? What would Watkins make of the ubiquity of corn syrup in our diets?
“The series Processed Views interprets the frontier of industrial food production, the seductive and alarming intersection of nature and technology,” write Lindsay Lochman & Barbara Ciurej in their artist statement. As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
Processed Views is a witty and painstakingly constructed project that gets at some serious issues. What were Lochman and Ciurej thinking? Exactly how did they piece together these distopic dioramas that drip with E-numbers?   
see our photographs, Watkins' inspirations and find out why   click  Q&A 

Processed Views - Why Watkins? Why Food?

We view each of  the  10 major "food" categories depicted in Processed Views as a "conversation starter" around agricultural practices, food processing and unintended consequences for soil quality and our natural resources.  How did we come to this presentation for our concerns? 

We came to Processed Views from an earlier project, Ponder Food as Love which addressed the nature of nurturing. In those photographs, we were interested in picturing the emotional and physical energy that flows through the act of preparing and sharing food. We could not ignore, however, the flip-side of food consumption in America: a complex, impersonal system of industrial agriculture, food processing and marketing.  In the autumn of 2012, During one of our free-ranging phone conversations, the synapses fired, the web of ideas connected, idea was hatched…
A  Brief History:
We spent the first decade of our collaboration in the late 1070's  roaming, photographing and studying the landscape of America facilitated by the hospitality and generosity of Lindsay's family (sister Lisa, Aunt Christina, Ginny Starquist, Aunt Cordelia and Uncle Bob).  We thought a great deal about the hardships endured by the early photographers. We wondered if we could have produced photographs without the aid of our trusty Buick LeSabre luxury-mobile, coolers and instant coffee. 
When we became mothers back in the midwest, our annual photographic pilgrimages were cut short. In the subsequent years we developed an intimate knowledge of and  relationship with food.  We recognized that food in family life is about nurture, ritual and in forging emotional relationships. Processed Views is a response  to our historical circumstances as much as Watkins, the photographers of the USGS surveys, members of the F64 group or the New Topographers responded to theirs.

Why Carleton Watkins?
We turn to history and mythology to clarify and anchor our research. Looking back 150 years, Carleton Watkins iconic photographs honored unsullied nature and documented human behavior on the frontier. They were a revelation at that time.  His images record a critical time in the ongoing debate between industrial development and conservation.  We are now at a new critical point and the current discourse is fractured.  How can the state of our health, industrial agriculture, chemistry, biological modification of plants and livestock, water and land use, finite natural resources, demographic and geographical change be included in a single conversation?  
Referencing Watkins' sublime views and sites of nascent technological activity in California and Oregon, are an invitation to  viewer to consider an alternate reality in which the trajectory of our agricultural production is taken to an extreme. We fast forward to seductive, garish and static monocultures. 

Why food?
The land is threatened by our activities on many levels: energy extraction, manufacturing pollution, climate change…the scale is vast and opportunities for thoughtful encounters are infrequent and remote.  The most palpable and visceral link to the consequences of our actions is the food we eat. Our most intimate encounter with industrial scale production is processed food, we have an opportunity to consider the consequences of our actions one bite at a time. 

We showcase major components of our diet that are products of industrial development and marketing. 

We allude to Watkins' far vista in our tabletop landscapes, hinting at vastness, yet stranding the viewer a swale of familiar processed food products. The photographer's 18" x 22" Mammoth Plate Views were extraordinarily large and detailed in their time, but are now considered small. We use this format to force the viewer into an intimate encounter with components of the average American diet. The technological commitment to bend the forces of nature in order to fulfill fantasies of a yummy life and heroic expectations of feeding the world has been oversold.  Should we rethink our fun-food utopia in light of scientific evidence of dwindling resources and potential for irreversible harm to the land?

A conjecture filled with pathos….Is there is danger in selling a dream? 
One of the hardest working, most original and technically gifted of American photographers, Watkins' work was renowned aesthetically and aided the cause of conservation and publicly held recreational land. His photographs promoted a utopia: The American West. Throughout his life, Watkins was both unwise and unlucky in his business practices. A crushing blow in his 77th year came at the hands of Mother Nature in the form of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He continued to struggle to provide for himself and his family, dying blind and penniless in an asylum in 1916. 
His life  reminds us that there is only certainty of change and the unexpected when you construct a dream.

Yosemite and Ansel Adams' Inspiration

After Ansel Adams
17 May to 28 September 2014
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

The work of Ansel Adams continues to inspire contemporary photographers working today. After Ansel Adams presents a selection of original photographs by Ansel Adams that show the immense beauty of National Parks of the American West, alongside the work of nine contemporary photographers who have photographed in this same landscape
Included in the exhibition are Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw, Donna J. Wan, Michael Lundgren, Millee Tibbs, Matthew Brandt, and Takeshi Shikama.

A large selection of images can be seen at Lenscratch

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite, CA, May 27, 2012   Binh Danh

Moonrise above Point Sublime, 2008  Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe

Cake Icing, 2012  Matthew Brandt

Mountains + Valleys (Monument Valley #1, Diptych) Millee Tibbs

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cantor Museum - Watkins' Stanford Albums

Cantor Arts Center presents an exhibition in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant 
April 23–August 17, 2014   Stanford, CA

Carleton Watkins: The Stanford Albums, an exhibition featuring more than 80 original mammoth prints from three unique albums of Watkins’s work: Photographs of the Yosemite Valley (1861 and 1865–66), Photographs of the Pacific Coast (1862–76), and Photographs of the Columbia River and Oregon (1867 and 1870). The exhibition will be on view April 23 through August 17, 2014. Also featured will be cartographic visualizations developed in collaboration with Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and the Bill Lane Center for the American West, which provide dynamic context for the geography and natural history of Watkins’s photographs.
 The exhibition is accompanied by a  mammoth volume of the same title published by Stanford University Press. It includes all 156 images from the albums—a definitive collection of Watkins’s highest achievements—and 17 essays by Stanford-affiliated contributors.

8 May interview with three contributors on Modern Art Notes Podcast with Tyler Greene.
 Inspiring exhibition slides:

150th Anniversary - Yosemite National Park

Processed Views is a cautionary extrapolation of what can happen due to Americans' lack of stewardship and respect for the land. The history of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove is an encouraging model. The National Park Service is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite GrantMaterials on display range from Lafayette Bunnell’s account of the ‘discovery’ of the Valley, in 1851, to John Muir’s famous Century Magazine articles (published in 1890) that led to the creation of Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890.
Carleton Watkins, Yosemite Valley
Charles Leander Weed, Yosemite Valley

Thursday, May 8, 2014

We Agree with Stephen Colbert

Processed Views on

Thanks, fellow photographer, Jing Yu for the heads up about our post in

Processed Views on Lenscratch

We appreciate you kicked off the Lenscratch Collaborative Exhibition with our Processed Views.

In light of tomorrow’s Collaboration Exhibition, I thought it to be appropriate to share some collaborative work.  Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, from Chicago and Milwaukee respectively, have been collaborating as a team for over thirty years.  Through this process they explore unified interests that strengthen their conversations and ideas between each other.  Collaborating as a way of making photographs always poses questions of leaders and button pushers, but in the case of Barbara and Lindsay they develop and divide work evenly.  Whether shooting together or separately, depending on the project, they always regroup to edit and exhibit together.
Today I’m excited to share their project Processed Views, which I have been privileged to see behind the curtain.  Through constructed landscapes made strictly from foods that make the chubby kid inside me drool, Barbra and Lindsay develop a commentary on today’s food culture and its digression from all things natural.  These handmade models are elaborate creations, holding their own as not only photographs but also sculptures.
Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman  began working together on photographic projects when they met as students at the Institute of Design in Chicago. They have developed an extensive body of collaborative work, chronicling rites of passage and documenting the psychological landscapes and social architecture that surround us.  The confluence of history, myth and popular culture is an ongoing theme in their collaborative work.
Exhibiting nationally and internationally, their photographs are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Walker Art Center and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Ciurej is a photographer and graphic designer in Chicago. Lochman is a Milwaukee-based photographer and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin.
Thanks, fellow photographer and Lenscratch editor, Grant Gill.

Processed Views on Our Age is 13

Thank you, Molly Been, for this post in Our Age is 13 blog.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Saturated Fat: Marketing Anti-Fat Righteousness

"Everything in moderation" was my advice growing up, but history indicates Americans joyfully embrace righteousness and the more-is-more senario.  Nina Teicholz discusses the links between science, marketing, politics and saturated fat in her recent article, The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease.
"Saturated fat does not cause heart disease"—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine....The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks....Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study....Our half-century effort to cut back on the consumption of meat, eggs and whole-fat dairy has a tragic quality. More than a billion dollars have been spent trying to prove Ancel Keys's hypothesis, but evidence of its benefits has never been produced. It is time to put the saturated-fat hypothesis to bed and to move on to test other possible culprits for our nation's health woes.
Ms. Teicholz has been researching dietary fat and disease for nearly a decade. Her book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," will be published by Simon & Schuster on May 13, 2014.
Saturated Fat Foothills, from Processed Views

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Corn is Complicated

Assumptions about international commodities markets lead to unintended consequences....

U.S. Corn Exports to China Dry Up Over GMO Concerns
Cargill, ADM Split With Seed Makers Over Stalled Shipments of Genetically Modified Grain
courtesy Wall Street Journal

China's tougher stance on imports of genetically modified corn is roiling U.S. agribusiness, largely halting trade in the biggest U.S. crop in its fastest growing market. By one industry estimate, exports are down by 85% compared with last year.
Since mid-November, China repeatedly has refused shipments of U.S. corn, saying officials detected that some contained a genetic modification developed by Syngenta AG SYNN.VX +0.15% that Beijing hasn't approved.
The rejections have hurt grain-trading companies such as Cargill Inc. and fueled frustration with what some U.S. executives say is Beijing's opaque regulatory process when its clout as an importer is growing. China is the world's fastest-growing market for corn.
Some U.S. industry observers suspect China is using concerns over the Syngenta product to cover commercial motives.
In the first full tally of the impact, a U.S. grain-industry group says the rejected shipments have come to nearly 1.45 million metric tons. That is far more than the 545,000 tons that Beijing has reported and the roughly 900,000 tons that has circulated in news media.
The rejected shipments have cost grain companies $427 million from lost sales and reduced prices for China-bound shipments that must be resold elsewhere, the National Grain and Feed Association says in a report to be released as soon as Friday. The figure includes corn and related products. China's scrutiny of the Syngenta product also has affected the price of corn and soybeans, translating to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for farmers, according to the report.
The trade association, which bases its tally on data from exporting companies, says U.S. corn exports to China have dropped to just 171,000 tons since January, down 85% from the same period last year.
Industry executives say the issue has hobbled U.S. corn exporters as they face heightened competition from other countries, such as Ukraine and Brazil.
"It's a watershed-type of moment," says Gary Martin, president of the North American Export Grain Association, which also represents U.S. commodity merchants and whose members contributed data to the study. "It's pretty dramatic if the U.S. can't supply the Chinese market."
Cargill, one of the world's biggest agriculture companies, this week said China's rejections were a main factor behind a 28% decline in its latest quarterly earnings.
Big seed companies such as Syngenta, Monsanto Co. MON -0.13% and DuPont Co. DD +0.15% generally are aligned with traders like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland Co. ADM -1.23% in the desire to grow and sell as much grain as possible. The traders have embraced farmers' use of genetically modified seeds, introduced in the U.S. in 1996, which proponents say have helped increase yields.
But the seed companies and traders now are debating who should shoulder the costs for the rejected shipments.
The North American Export Grain Association, which includes ADM and Cargill, has called on seed companies to fully bear the risks and liabilities from selling their products. It also has objected to introducing seeds with genetics that haven't secured approvals in major markets. Grain groups have called on Syngenta to stop selling such seeds until China grants approval.
Syngenta has rejected those calls and this year introduced a new corn seed that China hasn't approved. The company declines to say if the seed companies should bear financial responsibility for rejected shipments.
The episode reflects international discord over genetically modified seeds, which are altered to make them resistant to pests or to certain herbicides.
Critics say genetically modified crops cause increased use of some chemicals and could pose health concerns. Some countries, particularly in Europe, maintain tighter restrictions on genetically modified seeds than does the U.S., where such seeds are used for 90% of the corn crop.
China has approved some types of genetically modified crops, but its approval process often takes longer than in other big countries, U.S. industry executives say. China also allows its port officials to reject an entire cargo of corn if even one kernel has an unapproved gene, exporters say.
China, long a significant importer of soybeans, suddenly has become a major corn buyer. It purchased an estimated 5 million tons of foreign corn last year, up from 47,000 tons in 2008, according to the USDA.
China began rejecting shipments of U.S. corn in November after tests found that some cargoes contained Agrisure Viptera, a Syngenta strain engineered to produce proteins that ward off bugs such as the corn borer and black cutworm.
Syngenta has sold Viptera since 2011 to farmers in the U.S., Argentina and Brazil, with their governments' approval. The Basel, Switzerland, company says it submitted the product for Chinese approval in 2010.
China's Agriculture Ministry is evaluating Syngenta's application, which was incomplete, the agency says.
Syngenta says it submitted additional information last month.
Some people in the U.S. agricultural industry suspect that Beijing has competitive motives. Chinese officials have voiced concern about overreliance on U.S. corn, which makes up more than 90% of its corn imports. Nearly all of China's corn is homegrown, however, and the country harvested its own bumper crop last year.
"It's 100% economics," says Karl Setzer, a market analyst for MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa. "If China was facing a corn shortage or really needed the corn, it wouldn't be a problem, because they've probably been importing that [Syngenta variety] for the last three years."
A spokesman for China's embassy in the U.S. says it reviews imports according to relevant laws and regulations and that the review process for genetically modified crops "is open and transparent."
Exports account for only about 12% of the U.S. corn crop, but China's rapid growth gives the country an outsize influence over prices.
Grain traders say Syngenta and other seed companies should be cautious about selling farmers seeds that aren't approved in major markets such as China. Cargill, ADM and Bunge Ltd. BG +0.35% , another big grain trader, have restricted their purchases of corn grown with the Syngenta seeds, to help avoid further disruptions. Still, the grain-company executives say it is impractical for them to police which corn is grown with which seeds when the crops are purchased from farmers.
Syngenta this year started selling a new corn variety called Duracade in the U.S. that the company says isn't likely to be approved in China until next year at the earliest. Syngenta says farmers need the new corn it has introduced to combat insects that are resilient to established pesticides.
Taking the products off the market "would mean that it is the Chinese regulatory system—currently not functioning in a predictable or timely manner—which will decide which tools are going to be available to U.S. corn growers in the future," David Morgan, Syngenta's director for North America, has written to grain groups.
Some people say the grain industry needs to get better at trading products geared toward certain buyers. Gavilon LLC, a Nebraska grain-trading company owned by Japan's Marubeni Corp. 8002.TO +0.15% , approached Syngenta this year about a commitment to buy Duracade corn. That would provide a market for farmers who bought the seeds but risk rejection by other grain companies.
"The issues with [Syngenta's] Viptera last year, that was no good for the industry overall," says Greg Konsor, vice president of grain for Gavilon. "As a grain industry…we can do a better job."
—Chuin-Wei Yap and Tony Dreibus contributed to this article.
Write to Jacob Bunge at

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The World of Meat

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is an excellent resource for all things food internationally. The range of programs and research are food for thought. Meat information is on the current agenda:

Inspired to look close to home for major US Meat Processing Facilities an Slaughterhouses.

Catalogue - Consumed: Nourishment and Indulgence

A catalogue from the exhibition Consumed: Nourishment and Indulgence is now available.

Catalogue of the exhibition, CONSUMED: NOURISHMENT & INDULGENCE , presented at Bowling Green State University September 6 - October 9, 2013. Food is unlike any other object of consumption because it is necessary for life, yet we have highly complex societal, cultural and individual relationships with it. The varied work in this exhibition considered some of the issues, attitudes and associations that food engenders and symbolizes, from past to present to future. Curated by BGSU Gallery Director Jacqueline Nathan with Marce Dupay and Wynn Perry.

Documenting and Discussing Food and Art

We recently received correspondence from Ellen Mueller, Art Department Chair at West Virginia Wesleyan College, who is planning a CAA conference panel discussion:  Food and Art.  

“This panel seeks submissions that address occurrences at the intersection of food and art. Food, and ideas surrounding the subject, have recently been spotlighted in exhibitions such as Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art (2012) at The University of Chicago; Consumed: Nourishment and Indulgence (2013) at Bowling Green State University; and Sugar, Sugar (2013) at Brenda May Gallery. 

Mueller's panel will survey a sampling of the origins, influences, theories, processes, and manifestations of art connected with food, either conceptually or materialistically. Topics of investigation could include, but are not limited to, the physical and emotional sense of taste, epicureanism, plating/presentation/aesthetics, scarcity & abundance, social functions and rituals associated with food, growth & decay, food as comfort, indulgence/restraint, processed food, the physical process of eating and digesting food, sexual associations, economics, and packaging & advertising. 
The sweet images below are from Sugar, Sugar and resonate with own experiments in landscape and portraiture.

A Trifecta: Salt, Sugar, Fat

Michael Moss  
Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.
Moss clarifies how we got here and coins a lot of new phrases describing our industrial strength food industry. Listen to the Interview on NPR.

A Rainbow of Colors for Any Occasion

Research for our latest Processed View addresses artificial colors and flavors in the painted dessert of party food. We must ask questions about the chemicals we ingest daily and on special occasions. One source of chemicals are the rainbow of dyes which help define our conception of fun food and party food. 

We have sought out the latest party food technology. You may think we have landed on the Blue Moon? Run the rapids on the Green River? No, we're shopping at Walmart. Happy Holidays!

April Fool's Day - Sad Food Trends

Not much to say about the food trends phenomenon that isn't stated in this April Fool's Day article from First We Feast blog. That it's only the tip of an iceberg. Our own research indicates time-tested winners that will be and have been with us for a long time.

Saturated Fat Foothills : Complicated Terrain

Saturated Fat Foothills from Processed Views: a Survey of the Industrial Landscape
NPR blog THE SALT continually updates the conversation regarding saturated fat in our diets.
Historically, there have been unintended consequences of demonizing foods. Consider the full-fat dairy paradox and the suicide-by-salami debate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: Carleton Watkins the Complete Mammoth Photographs

An extensive biographical synopsis of Carleton Watkins and the impact of his work can be found at Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes where he reviews

Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs by Weston Naef and Christine Hult-Lewis 

Watkins got his start as a photographer of commercial real estate. His photographs of Yosemite were enormously impressive when seen on the East coast, prompting the creation of Yosemite as a National Park and motivating Eastern painters such as Bierstadt to seek out a then-little-known Californian.  Creating the sublime view was Watkins’s signature technique:  "implying scale by placing dramatic objects — trees, rocks – in the foreground of his pictures, objects that would print darker than the massive mountains or other landscape elements in the background."
In discussing the origins of the Watkins monograph, Green mentioned collector and digital archivist Steve Heselton who launched, an indispensible online repository with JPEGs of nearly all of Watkins’ known stereoviews. It has certainly been indespensable for our Processed Views project. 
Perhaps in part because he was mostly unaware of dominant Eastern art-making trend Watkins was uninterested in the dewy, often treacly fantasia that suffused 19th-century American painting. Instead, Watkins showed the landscape as it was: Grand and beautiful, but also as a resource that was tapped. Watkins didn’t just show us beautiful views from high places, he showed the land being consumed by prospectors, being blown up and blown through by the railroads, and he showed the natural landscape being replaced by San Francisco and by the sort of massive farms that first made southern California famous. He showed the lumber mills that decimated the Western forests and the mines that tunneled underneath the mountains and the smelters that broke down the found ore. He showed how the wealthiest Westerners, Watkins’s mates in San Francisco’s famed Bohemian Club, lived on their country estates.
Watkins established the Western landscape, the real Western landscape and not the manifest-destiny-driven (or Humboldtian) fantasy of it, as the grand American thing, as the subject with which American art would have to grapple. Watkins’s insistence on showing the land as it was — not just its beauty but also the land as it was used, even defiled by extraction-driven industries such as timber, mining and agriculture — pointed the way toward truth in American art. It was Watkins who pioneered the American realism that gave rise to the crusading honesty of Lewis Hine, Ben Shahn and Dorothea Lange, that led to the more nuanced revelations of the New Topographics photographers and the deadpan forwardness of Ed Ruscha. [Image: Watkins, Cape Horn near Celilo, Columbia River, Oregon, 1867. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.]
Other contributors to Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photogrphs include Getty research associate Michael Hargraves, Bancroft Library curator Jack von Euw and Huntington Library curator Jennifer A. Watts.

Additional discussion about Watkins' and photographer Robert Adams' love of trees can be found at