Category Archives: art and food

An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

Be an Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

Segmation

Join us on FacebookSegPlay® Mobile iTunes now available for iPhone and iPad

www.segmation.com

The Color Red and its Many Meanings

Stop and think about the color red.

… Get it? Stop and think. The color red conveys different meanings throughout the world. In North America, the color red is used for stop lights and stop signs. It also serves this purpose in other nations in addition to representing personal emotions.

According to incredibleart.org red also represents “Excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, and all things intense and passionate.” In Eastern cultures, red indicates happiness.

Red comes in all shapes and sizes, but these meanings are rather consistent. Lately, however, red is a color of contradiction.

Red, a Color of Contradiction

The journal Appetite recently issued a new study that arrived at a simple conclusion: “the color red reduces consumption.” But don’t be quick to add “appetite suppressant” to its list of traits. For years, branding experts have been saying that red stimulates hunger. Karen Haller is a color and branding expert who confirms this by saying, “red triggers stimulation, appetite, hunger, and it attracts attention.”

It is no secret that people are drawn to the color red, after all, red lipstick, cocktail dresses, and roses are thought to be very alluring. How can it encourage one’s appetite while decreasing consumption?

Cognitive psychology researcher and author of the new study Nicola Bruno seeks to answer this question. She evaluates the consumption of 240 volunteers given popcorn, chocolate, or hand cream on different colored plates.

The CNN article covering this topic states, “On average, people ate less popcorn and chocolate when they were served on red plates compared to blue or white plates.” But this is not exclusive to food. “Moisturizing cream followed a similar trend. When testing hand cream on red plates, people used about half as much, on average, compared to cream on blue or white plates.”

Oliver Genschow, who studies consumer psychology at the University of Mannheim, agrees that “the study supports the idea that red reduces consumption.” However, the research only goes so far as to say this is a “subconscious” phenomenon. Should people know red decreases consumption, eating from red plates may not help them. Considering branding experts are convinced red triggers hunger, it is probably best to stop… and think about what’s on the plate.

Image made available by  luizfilipe on Flickr through Creative Common Licenses.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Color Psychology:

The Psychology of Color

Vehicle Safety and Car Color

Red and Green are an Unlikely Pair

Be a Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

Segmation

FREE Newsletter

Join us on FacebookSegPlay® Mobile iTunes now available for iPhone and iPad

www.segmation.com