Category Archives: Food

Research Project: Lauren Kalman

For this research project, we were asked to research allocated jewellery designers in-depth and create a piece inspired by their work and philosophies. I was given the multi-media and goldsmith artist Lauren Kalman.

Kalman was born in Cleveland Heights, and currently lives and teaches in Providence, Rhode Island. Her mother was a commercial photographer and her father, an industrial designer. Her parents are present in her work – as her objects for the body imply to ergonomics and industrial design.

Her Hard Wear series focuses on the struggle between the unrefined body and the desire for perfection. She believes gold symbolises beauty, purity and immortality because it is an expensive and valuable material. People have been wearing jewellery made of gold to emphasise these qualities and improve their desire for perfection. However, in contrast, Kalman makes the body look UNdesirable through applying gold to the body, highlighting disease and imperfections.

Kalman applies jewellery to the strangest of places, such as the inside corner of the eye, the inner ear and nostril. I believe through placing objects in these awkward places reveals hidden areas of the body. In addition, these jewels cause restriction and sometimes reactions. For instance, blocking one nostril through inserting jewellery makes it more difficult to breathe and the sprouting shape of the object must hurt and graze the nostril when you put it in. The Gold Duct piece, when place, causes you to cry because the gold is just about touching the eye itself and restricting you to blink, thus, drying the eye out.

Are these grillz as cool as pimped up rapper Flava Flav here? Or just gross? As you watch Kalman insert these gold veneers into her mouth, the effect is both intriguing yet repulsive as the veneers cause saliva to drip from her mouth. Imperfections begin to show. Thus, in the ‘Hard Wear’ series, Kalman is conveying the idea that beautiful and valuable materials such as gold and pearls can reveal undesirable qualities and imperfections on the body through distortion.

Blooms, Efflorescence, and Other Dermatological Embellishments 2009


In this series, pins are temporarily pierced into the skin to mimic infectious diseases. However, this temporary nature echoes the temporary visibility of diseases she portrays such as syphilis, warts, herpes, etc, which in time disappears from the skin’s surface, but sadly still lingers within the body. Her inspirations come from common images off the internet and medical resources, this is the reason for the compositions and close-up nature of Kalman’s images – trying to imitate photographs of medical infections.

I believe Kalman is emphasising that until the material of the infection is altered, grotesque becomes immediately beautiful. Even the colour of the embellishments, arrangement and monetary value convey these contrast because they are made of valuable materials, dotted evenly and balanced beautifully yet in the back of you mind you have got to remind yourself these are spots and disease. You may think a blistering rash is disgusting to look at, for example, but as soon as the glistening sores are replaced with lustrous pearls does it transform the appearance completely.

So yeah, from Kalman’s work I decided to take a similar approach but different theme and look at what food does to prevent certain diseases. In particular, I have focused on foods which actually look like the organ they help to protect.

For instance, a sliced carrot looks like the human eye and helps with the function of the eyes, improves vision and prevents infections such as cataracts.

Tomatoes have four chambers and is red just like the heart has four chambers. They can help with blood flow and prevent heart diseases such as coronary heart disease which is the narrowing of arteries.

But what I have taken interest in is the brain. Walnuts have gnarled folds just like the brain and are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which help with the development of the brain, thus, may assist in preventing dementia and brain aging.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia which includes the loss of memory. It leads to the development of protein ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ in the brain, resulting in the death of brain cells. So far Scientists are not absolutely sure of what causes Alzheimer’s disease. It could be age, inheritance or genetic factors. No

one is sure.

I took inspiration from Alzheimer’s cells and tried developing veiny shapes and alien-like forms to convey inner body organs and cells. I liked the idea of something growing out of the body like roots of a tree, spindly wrapping tendrils to emphasise a feeling of growth and never letting go. Like Alzheimer’s, it worsens over time and once you have it, you have got it for time.

The cells under a micro-scope were beautiful to look at, yet transmitted a nasty disease. I carried out samples using resin, experimenting with different colours similar to that of Alzheimer’s cells. The colours, to me, looked ultraviolet, like they glowed. Thus, I sampled using bits of UV acrylic and bright pigments to achieve colours I was happy with to give the idea of nuclei and cell-like qualities.

Sensation in this project was important to me. The first thought that came into my head of a nasty growth was something sticky, fleshy, and when touched would remain on your hands as if it was trying to pass onto someone else. Trying to grow and spread. I immediately thought LATEX. It possessed these rubbery-like qualities which would be perfect for what I wanted to achieve. I experimented with colours but preferred the clear stuff as it seemed more cell-like to me.

I attached the resin bits to the latex and created vein-like patterns by cutting holes into the rubber. I experimented with burning to achieve dark crisp sticky edges. The reason why I darkened the latex was because it would create more of a contrast on the skin, but yet retained that transparent quality. The natural latex was too similar to the colour of the skin, it would not be seen in the photographs and would reflect light too much, thus my decision. In addition, the melted latex would stick and feel more repulsive when attached to the skin, when taken off it would leave oil residue on the skin which emphasises the idea of dormant disease.


This is my final piece. I am pleased with the sensation and idea of my piece, however, the colour is not fully to my liking. I tried to find a way to make  the latex UV but the paint was expensive. Hopefully my piece conveys an impression of growth and spreading through the appearance of it placed on the body.

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What Images Mean

Assignment 2

For this next assignment, we were asked to find out what images mean to different people. The purpose of experimenting with images and objects I think is to try and consider how you could use this as a research method and to understand the concept of polysemy.

First I shall explain what polysemy means: with many significations or from Greek polusēmos having many meanings.

For the first part of this assignment we were advised to read Roland Barthes‘s essay ‘The Rhetoric of Image’ (essay taken from the book on right) which explores the relationship between images and text. He uses a Panzani advert, as an example, to demonstrate how from just one image can open a whole variety of underlying messages. I found this essay very tricky to read as Barthes first wrote the piece in academic French then translated it into English, but the main key points I think were conveyed well. Such as:

  • Images in advertising are purposely made to be easily understood so that the public can quickly grasp what the advertisement is trying to sell/say.
  • He sees two linguistic messages conveyed from the Panzani advertisement: the labels and captions on the produce create a denoted message. There was also a connoted message implied by the word ‘Panzani’ illustrating a cultural ethnicity, in this case, of Italianicity.
  • He then sees another underlying meaning, a symbolic message. For example, the half-open string bag portrays a come-back to the market meaning; tomatoes and peppers imply a feeling of Italianicity; the gathering of objects and vegetables signify a culinary service; the arrangement of the scene is similar to that of a still-life.
  • The third message is the literal message, the actual individual items in the image (a packet of pasta represents a packet of pasta), thus this is a message without a code.

After reading the essay and feeling confused I selected three random photographs using the website Stock.xchng and began the experiment. The pictures I chose are below, not in any specific order.

I asked different people to look at the images and tell a brief story linking all three together. Next I wrote down the key information from each story told, which were all completely different. When I had summarised all of them I selected one to be my target story. The task was to add a fourth image so that everyone I showed the images to would come up with the same target story.  The fourth image is below.

The initial story was from Kirstie, aged 23, female, studies Physiotherapy and born in Brunei Darrusalam. Her story went something like this: A couple owned a fruit and veg stall, whilst on the stall their kids are looked after by their grandma, she takes them to play ground to go on swings, this is where they find stray cat, they take it home.

The result was really surprising! 4 out of the 5 people told a similar story from the four images, without me even putting them in the correct order! Each of the 4 stories ended with kids taking the cat home. However I was determined for the last girl to follow suit. It was pretty simple, I just added one word for each image (fruit stall – couple, swings – children, cat on grass – stray, cat in bed – home). I then asked her how I could have made the target story more obvious. Her answer was possibly to have a cat with a collar on, the cat playing with children inside or the cat sleeping on someone’s lap. I also noticed in both stories that there was no suggestion the cat was a stray, her reason behind this was because she loves cats and does not want to imagine them stray and abandoned. This is interesting as now I think people’s taste can have a huge effect on image meaning.

Now from reading the essay and through experimenting with images, I have found that my understanding of polysemy has grown. That, indeed, an image can have multiple layers of meanings but can also have an affect and become misunderstood by different people, perhaps due to their cultural background, bringing up, schooling and, in Pierre Bordieu’s book I read, it could even be down to social class. So polysemy in jewellery can create problems as you may percieve your own piece in such a way but others may see it in a totally different light. Maybe you did this purposely to keep the public questioning about your piece but sometimes it is important to fix the meaning of your work (Lighting, colours used, composition etc), or else your work could be reviewed in an art newspaper for everybody to see besides the fact that what is being said about your piece may be complete nonsense.

However, the essay as a whole raises the question ‘how does this relate to my discipline’ – jewellery? Well I think it relates to me as an individual. How do I come across to other people? How do others percieve me? How can I present my work in such a way to attract clients? Because if I place my piece on, let’s say, some sand, it may detract from the true meaning of my piece. I think this plays a big role in my discipline because if a client wants to interview me and I come in with a frown on my face of shabby clothes, it will turn the client off straight away. Appearance, enthusiasm and confidence in your own work is essential in luring customers in.

Wearable Food: Reality and Non-Reality

Sung Yeon Ju was  born in Seoul, Korea 1986 and graduated from Hong IK University in 2010. She has created a beautiful series called ‘Wearable Food’ in which she has produced numerous garments made from food then photographing them.

Starting from top left and along the dress are made of: chives; Lotus root; shrimp; aubergine; red cabbage; leeks; BUBBLEGUM; banana; tomatoes. AMAZING!!!!

In her statement she claims that “Photography has a power to make us believe”, suggesting that a picture, no matter how manipulated it is, we will still think it is real. For example, air-brushed photographs of celebrities make us believe they have no cellulite or wrinkles, however this is never the case. So Yeon Ju’s assertion here is that as time passes – food rots and changes colour and shrivels. But through taking a photograph at the particular moment when the food is fresh, it makes us accept that the dress is unchangeable. But in reality, what really happens? The food on the dress decays therefore does not retain their photographed state – it is not real that food stays fresh forever like in the photo. However, looking at the photograph we feel happiness that this short-lived circumstance could remain.

I love this idea of reality vs non-reality as it makes me think differently of perfect photographs of famous celebs. It cannot be real that you always look perfect. These designs also remind me of Lady Gaga’s meat dress she wore which made you GAG more than craving.

Another artist I would suggest to look at is a guy called Ted Sebarese, he has amazing photography, design and sculpture.

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