Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Atmospheric Cookery or How To Make Photos of Disasters

Atmospheric Cookery or How To Make Photos of Disasters
Bedroomlab lecture notes by Lena Cobangbang

I first started using food and other food items for art when I taught myself how to bake bread for a culminating art project for my residency in Big Sky Mind in (year). It was 12 loaves of bread inserted with receipts of all the expenses I have incurred during the residency.

As more cookbooks and food magazines have replaced my art reading materials, I became engrossed with how food/dishes are being presented. This led me to my first photo series Terrible Landcapes. The impetus for which was also from a frustrated and belated realization that I should’ve enrolled myself instead to a food styling course if ever an art career doesn’t flourish to my assumed expectation of a successful art career, whatever that is.

In looking at photos of food, I tend to see them as landscapes instead and cookery as another authorial expressive medium akin to painting, and as how the painterly effects also give off a palpability that belies the supposed transcendent quality of a painting by being carnal and voluptuous in their viscosity.

Gradually, I began to eliminate the components with which I’ve been making my dioramas, and limiting them to basics which are limitless in their possibilities in producing various effects such as flour, vinegar, baking soda, gelatin, egg and food coloring. These ingredients were mainly used for the subsequent series Overland (mostly gelatin, and a lot of parsley and garbanzos), and Crater Valley Plateau (mostly using an edible play do mixture and bicarbonated mixture to produce explosions.)

The Weather Bureau is the most recent series of photos which I’m doing as a collaborative project with Mike Crisostomo, another artist whom I also partner with for production design work and prop styling gigs. This series will be shown this coming September at Manila Contemporary and at Blanc Space.

The process by which we make the dioramas for our photos incorporate cookery and some photoshop magic. It is a natural recourse I guess since we both have a background in production design work, while Mike had some formal cookery training and I was doing rudimentary food styling or food props prepping for some films and TVCs.

We have mostly stuck to the basics such as eggs, flour and gelatin in producing or recreating some of the effects that we would want to achieve in simulating certain weather conditions, i.e. beaten eggs for foam, gelatin for a wave, flour for pavement, shaved ice for snow, etc.

We’re still in the process of experimenting the effects of certain ingredients and how they can contribute to our idea of a perfect weather disaster.

 About The Weather Bureau :

The initial idea for this was an interest in ruins and Albert Speer’s theory of ruin value and how that theory has greatly influenced Hitler’s vision of monumentality. By picturing disasters/ weather conditions in their active state, we are attempting to envision a monumentality in the process of ravishing a landscape or a city. In recreating them, in whatever means we choose to simulate these various weathering, we somehow wanted to control the seemingly uncontrollable, striving for perfection, via shortcuts and cheats, and the calculated accidents produced by the materials we use.
In such inordinate ordering therein lies an inherent fascism, in a very ordered interior, and in the very ordered picture for the frame dictates it so, it seizes and serves only what is within its limits. The next frame is not a continuum of the previous picture. But past and future can co-exist in this suspended denoument of the moment, for the present is rather a passing and a foreboding, eternity in stasis, potential imagined for its potentiality, Diderot walking between two eternities, two constants – time enduring and world remaining.

The Weather Bureau seeks to pictorialize all such exigencies wrought by the incongruence of order and the limitless, and the inevitable ruination incurred in such process.

The Weather Bureau is in one in the era of possibility in the empire of fictions.


"I’m  a frustrated architect. All my projects, especially of late, are fueled by this frustration or I’m just inherently fascist, manipulative and obsessive. I like to control things. I like things to be in control, organized in their proper places.  I like to make-up worlds, scenarios to be these stages for all my other frustrations – aviator, city planner, chef, gourmand, actor, dictator – a molder of worlds that is palpable only as the surface of the picture.  But then again, I’m more of a philosopher of the senses. I would love to think that so."  - Lena Cobangbang
[Quote taken from Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill]

1976 born in Manila (Philippines)
lives and works in Manila (Philippines)

1995-2002      University of the Philippines, Quezon City (RP)

Exhibitions, projects (selection, 2000-2010)

The Care for Dead Horses, Finale Art File, Makati City (RP) (solo)
Minimum Yields Maximum, Montevista Projects, Los Ageles/California (USA)

Bayanihan: works from Manila, Okay Mountain, Austin/Texas (USA)
Crater Valley Plateau, Finale Art File, Makati City (RP) (solo)
Beyond Frame, Philippine Photomedia, Ateneo Art Gallery, Quezon   City (RP)
Here Be Dragons: Topology of Allegory, Manila Contemporary, Makati  City (RP)
Serial Killers (2), Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City (RP)
Counter Intelligence, Luckman  Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles/California (USA)

Singapore Bienniale08: Wonder, Singapore (SGP)
Room 307: Inkling, Gutfeel and Hunch, National Art Gallery, National Museum, Manila (RP)
Cut, New Photography From Southeast Asia, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Malaysia (MAL)
The Nomenclature Project, commissioned published work for  Yason Banals’ special column series Utopia: Sleepwalking Project, Young  Star section of The Philippine Star, Feb. 29, 2008 edition
Serial Killers, Green Papaya Artists Projects, Quezon City (RP)
Beyond frame: Philippine Photomedia, Ateneo Art  Gallery, Quezon City (RP), La Trobe Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo (AUS), UTS Gallery, Sydney (AUS)
Passage 3, Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto (J)

Land, Galleria Duemila, Pasay City (RP)
3YC, Valentine Wille Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (MAL)
Shoot Me, Mo_art Space, Makati City (RP)

Metropolitan Mapping, Exhibition Gallery, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Hongkong (HK)
Conflict Resolutions, Future Prospects Art Space, Quezon City (RP)
Missing Vocabularies, Green Papaya, Quezon City (RP)
CCP 13 Artist Show, Main Gallery, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila (RP)
Postmodernism is So Last Season, Green Papaya, Quezon City (RP)
Collaborations (with Manuel Ocampo), Finale Art File, Mandaluyong  City (RP)
Manila Envelope, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA (USA)

All That Heaven Allows, Finale Art File, Mandaluyong City (RP) (solo)
You Are Here, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (MAL)
Picturing Painting, Jorge Vargas Museum, Quezon City (RP)

Closed for Inventory, The Cubicle, Pasig City (RP)
SENI/Homefronts, Singapore Art   Museum, Singapore (SGP)
Building Bridges, Big Sky Mind, Quezon City (RP)

Projections, Lopez Memorial Museum, Pasig City (RP)

Portable Multiples, Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore (SGP)
Lighting Show, Photography Art Center, Makati City (RP)
A Feast of Conversations, Atelier Frank and Lee, Singapore (SGP)
Fixation: Notions of Obsession, Lopez Memorial Museum, Pasig City (RP)

Space Meeting Place, Gallery 2, Ayala Museum, Makati City (RP)
Surrounded, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City (RP)
WOWB (Who Owns Women's Bodies), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City (RP)
Stockroom, Surrounded By Water, Mandaluyong City (RP)

Video – Take, Openbare Bibliotheek van  Leuven, Brussels (B)
Search and Destroy Missions, Kitchen, Mandaluyong City (RP), Surrounded By Water, Mandaluyong City (RP)
Paper Over, Ayala Museum, Makati City (RP)

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