Food or Art? Maybe Both

Jul 5, 2012 by

If you really look closely at your food, it can seem kind of pretty. But photographer Caren Alpert takes it to a whole new level – literally, a microscopic level. She uses an electron microscope to photograph food, ending up with images that are sometimes unrecognizable, but always beautiful. Check out her gallery to see food in a whole new way. She says in her Artist’s Statement:

What’s in our food? What’s the difference between a bird’s-eye view of a remote vegetable crop and a microscopic swath from a pineapple leaf? How distinct is a pile of table salt from miles and miles of icebergs? I’ve made a living over the last decade capturing mostly recognizable images of food. Now I want to show what is there, but what we never actually see: landscapes, patterns and textures that ignite a completely different response from the viewer.

Photographs taken with electron microscopes have seized my interest because of their mystery and simultaneous familiarity. This medium deconstructs, abstracts, and reveals the ordinary in a riveting way. The closer the lens got, the more I saw food – and consumers of food – as part of a larger eco-system. There’s so much rhetoric in our culture around food: food science, food journalism, food history, and food how-to. It is my hope that these photographs might transform our food obsession into a newfound closeness with what nourishes us.

She also kindly gave me permission to post one of her images – do you recognize this?

terra cibus no. 1: blueberry


If you’re interested in seeing more of Caren’s work, and are out on the West Coast, you have a couple chances to see her photographs up close and in person. She currently has a solo exhibit running at Camerawork Gallery in Portland, OR through July 20. She also will be featured at the San Francisco Apple Store on July 19 as part of their Creative Professional Series. For more information, please visit

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