New Project: Sugar

This semester, I am going to do honors special project. To explain about the project briefly, honors students are required to do two independent studies, and this special project is one of them. The project has to be proposed and approved beforehand. I like this structure, especially because it allows the students to construct a project from scratch, giving us the experience outside of classroom.

The project I am going to work on is a visual analysis of American food culture. Every time I move to a new place, I try out local products and cuisines to understand the culture better. In the case of Columbus, and the United States in general, I began to recognize the amount of sugar hidden in the food here. From cookies, cupcakes, muffins, chocolates, and to pop/soda, they sit in the grocery store luring your eyes with their bright neon color packages. I tried to resist them, but sadly failed to do so. The temptation is so hard to resist!

It is difficult to avoid them because they are everywhere around us. Are you craving some chocolates? Simply hop on your car, drive to your closest grocery shop, and voila, now you have 10 different kinds of chocolates to choose from. The availability of these sweets at an affordable cost allows everyone to purchase and consume the sugars anytime, anywhere.

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Hot chocolate is one of the sweet drinks that is everywhere…oh, such a perfect drink in the winter!

Based on my observation, I am going to create a series of photographs about sugar consumption. Everything is yet to be shot, so this is going to be a wordy explanation of the vision:

Each photograph stages different kinds of sugar filled food, such as sweets, pastries, and soft drinks (or sodas), and they are all going to be lit in chiaroscuro. The background is going to be dark field, and the foreground brightly lit in a similar manner as Willem Kalf and Jen Weenix’s paintings. I am also planning a wide shot that includes all the sugary food.

In addition to this, all sugar filled food is going to be empty in the inside to reflect the empty calories. Some will be cut in half to show the inside, where else others will simply appear with nothing in the core. The appearance of the food is going to depend on its shape and form. Next to each food is also going to be a small mountain of sugar, as if it came straight out from the empty area of the food.

I will be documenting the process on this blog; stay tuned!

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Day 7: Los Angeles!

Currently, it is our third day in Los Angeles. But, because of my late update on blog, I will rewind the time to our first day in here. Before I begin, I just wanted to note that I didn’t have a chance to take photographs on that day…What a shame on me. I am disappointed at myself (I even carried my camera around the whole day!). Anyhow, here is how day 7 went.

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After our arrival in Los Angeles, we first went to get TAP card, a handy, convenient card for metro lines (bus and train). If using public transportation here, TAP card is a must! That way, there is no need to pull out $1.75 (which is the fare per ride) from your wallet every time; just ‘tap’ the card to the reader and there you go. Also, there are variations of types available, from 1 day to 7 days, and even to a month. We set to the City Hall of Los Angeles (as indicated by the TAP card website), only to find out that the office was closed during the weekends. It was a let down, but hey, we learned a lesson here. Research public transportation and fare beforehand! As much common it sounds, this is very important (or so I learned).

Later we visited Annenberg Space for Photography. It was absolutely beautiful! Their current exhibition is titled “Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Challenge“, which discusses about effects of rising sea level around the world through photography. It included photographs by Iwan Baan, Stephen Wilkes, Paula Bronstein, and Jonas Bendiksen. I wasn’t familiar with any of the photographers in the exhibits, but it didn’t take too long for me to fall in love with them.Their photographs narrate a story by itself, that even without the aid of description, it contains enough information to enfold what it is about.

There was also series of short clips that featured the photographers’ voice and behind the scenes, and that made them my idols in an instant! I especially was struck by Stephen Wilkes’ film. Photography is visual, and in some cases, disturbing content may appear. On the contrary, however, it is the photographer who recreates it into something of a beauty. It is capable of attracting the viewer, and further pulling them into its tangibility. Photography is capable of effecting and causing mental change. If you are around Los Angeles, this needs to be in the to-do-list! It’s also free for admission!