Paweena Prachanronarong MFA Design and Technology “ Perfect Imperfections ” 10/31/2011 Parsons The New School for Design: ArtSci Prof. Victoria Vesna
ABSTRACT We are living in a society obsessed with perfection. Using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), it is now possible to choose gender and physical characteristics for your future child. Pedigree dogs that are bred to win prizes are suffering from genetic diseases due to inbreeding. People will choose to have plastic surgery despite potential risks and side effects. And on a smaller scale, imperfectly-shaped fruits and vegetables are being tossed and wasted simply because of the way they look, although they are still edible. Many times, the fruits and vegetables look imperfect because little or no spray is used on them. The sprays are so toxic that it is believed that they are causing Colony Collapse Disorder. So in a sense, looks are emphasized over health. Through selecting various “imperfect” fruits and vegetables, and performing “plastic surgery” on these artifacts and then placing them back in their environment, we will be able to examine how people react to these “perfect imperfections.”
CONCEPT/TOPIC I started thinking about this idea after the dog breeding video was shown in class. That same day, I went to the farmer’s market and saw a box of apples that said, “Not pretty, but little or no spray.” The apples were cheaper that the apples that contained pesticides. Seeing both things on the same day, I started to think about why we are a culture so obsessed with beauty, and what’s on the outside. So for my project proposal, I will have two parts: Part I: I will select various “imperfect” and organic fruits and vegetables that I find at the farmer’s market. I will then perform “plastic surgery” on these artifacts, perhaps stitching over a gash on a tomato, or drawing plastic surgery lines over imperfect bumps on potatoes. Then, I will photograph these fruits and vegetables and create a photographic series based on these surgeries. Part II: I will then place these artifacts back in a similar environment. Perhaps in Whole Foods where the perception is that the majority of the produce is organic, or another supermarket where the produce looks “perfect.” Next, I will document peoples’ reactions to these “perfect imperfections.”
CONTEXT + PRECEDENTS “ In North America and Europe, food loss is more likely to include the discarding of fruits and vegetables that are imperfect in appearance or non-uniform in size.” “ The report authors say that carrot standards are so stringent that carrots with even a slight bend (making peeling a touch harder) are discarded, and then pass through an ultraviolet light to eliminate those with even a slight blend of colors or a somewhat duller orange coloration. Supermarkets demand apples in exactly uniform sizes and shapes, refusing or not stocking those that muss the perfect fruit pyramid.” “ While blemished and imperfectly shaped organic fruits and vegetables do exist because of not being sprayed or treated with chemicals to create perfect-looking produce, what you don’t know is that such imperfections also exist in commercial produce – they just never reach the stores. Truckloads of commercial apples, for example, are rejected for size, shape and imperfections when they are sorted at the orchard. In organic orchards, because smaller volumes are produced and there is less emphasis on cosmetics, there is less waste – but the flavor and health benefits outshine any visual imperfections.”
PROJECT PROPOSAL (PART I) The first part of the project will focus on creating a photographic series of “perfect imperfections” – “imperfect” fruits and vegetables I have found and selected to perform mock surgery on.
PROJECT PROPOSAL (PART II) For the second part of the project, I will place these “perfect imperfections” back into a grocery store environment, where imperfections are simply not allowed. I will then document peoples’ reactions to these artifacts.
CONCLUSION In pursuing this project, I hope to shed some light on some of the facets of our culture that could change, and hopefully decrease food waste. I do believe that the capabilities of science acted as a catalyst to spawn the need for perfection in our culture. The next step in pursuing the project idea would be to simply get to work. I need to find the most “imperfect” produce possible, and make them as “perfect” as possible. I am also thinking that this theme of achieving perfection could grow. I could start out with something small and simple like my current project idea, but I could also expand it. I could design a website or an app (that seems legit) where people can design their own babies. I could also create a fake product (that seems real) that is so absurd in its claims to keep people looking young. With this concept, I see potential for future projects and explorations.
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