Continuing his interrogation of the food/art crossover, Cedar Lewisohn speaks to London-based artist Joey Holder about the various ways food has, well, fed into her practice. Holder’s work mixes technology and nature, futurology and the uncanny. Her multi faceted practice incorporates video and web-based projects that utilise websites such as Tumblr to create ongoing image streams. The work of ten picks up on the more extreme aspects of the natural world, particularly the aquatic realm, and all these various interests manifest themselves in her research into food.
Cedar Lewisohn — How do you see technology affecting food in the future?
Joey Holder — I recently completed a research commission called Internet of Growing Things, in Nottingham, with an organisation called Near Now. Here, I was able to talk to researchers in the Biosciences Department at Nottingham University who are involved with future urban farming methods. I learnt about ‘vertical farming’ – the practice of cultivating plant life within a skyscraper greenhouse, or on vertically inclined surfaces. These methods often involve the use of ‘hydroponics’ – growing plants without soil. Due to the degradation of architectural land and the move of the population to urban centres, these vertical farms could provide an alternative to rural farms.
CL — What is your favourite food, and why? Do have a recipe to share?
JH — I am attracted to foods which may be considered distasteful or strange to our Westernized perceptions, and I collect images of these foods on my website: http://sushishhihuiiishii.tumblr.com/ The blog contains found images from the internet of high-end cuisine and Asian sea food dishes, mixed with an unlikely assortment of creatures prepared for consumption: rats on sticks, insect sushi and huge wormlike molluscs. The images reflect the way in which we have been encultured and how we understand and experience food – whether certain foods are repellent or desirable.
CL — OK, so no recipe… Your work seems interested in hybridisations and weird elements of nature – can you talk about this in relation to our perception of the natural world and food in particular?
JH — Relationships between organisms, food chains and their environments can be studied through ecosystems, but that term seems to fall short when thinking about the inclusion of the human connections to these systems. We should no longer be thinking about the idea of the human being outside of nature, but part of a larger ‘mesh’, an interconnected system, without hierarchy or distance – nature should no longer be thought of as a concept which is ‘over there’ or outside of us.
CL — ‘Food porn’ – watching cooking shows on TV, or drooling over cookery books – sometimes appears to be more popular than actually creating or eating a decent meal. This idea of a simulated authenticity could also apply to the world of virtual reality. How do you feel about this comparison and should we be worried by such simulations?
JH — I think that with all emergent technologies there is always a fear of how they will affect us, and in what ways they will be used to ‘control’ us. In other words, how they will be used by people in power. Everything goes in cycles, and emergent technologies will come up against currents of opposing forces, too. Digital work can never replace the fulfilment I get from creating physical works.