Food Photomicrographs

My favorite flavor is red – Gerald Ford

Because it can create a lasting record of ephemeral phenomena the camera has long been used as a tool in microscopy. The resulting photomicrographs are a source of information for the scientist and wonder for the novice. Just as when one looks at a photograph an assumption is made about its depiction of the real, a similar assumption is made about a photomicrographs source in nature. Both speak as documents of reality, of the world, and of the substances from which the world is made.

Photomicrographs are commonly used in the food industry where technologists specialize in the reconstruction and “improvement” of nature. Trade advertisements boast of flavors and colors more real than their natural source. The flavor of 40 pounds of blue cheese can be simulated within a test tube. No longer can one’s senses be trusted in delineating the “natural” from the “artificial”.

When a photomicrgraph is of a cheese analog several conventions intersect and become confused. At first glance one sees an abstract pattern. Upon closer inspection some type of cellular structure is discerned and the pattern is revealed as the miscroscopic document of a substance assumed to be organic. Because the photograph is of a cheese analog, a chemical replica, then even the natural origin is thrown into question. A medium assumed to document the real, but which inevitably is about the construction of reality, depicts the formulation of an artificial substance. – grant proposal circa 1988