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An Abstract Look At The Food We Eat

When photographer Ajay Malghan looks at this image, he sees the Virgin Mary. But you might see something entirely different — a flower petal, maybe. Or a sea slug.

Or how about ... a carrot? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a picture of a sliced carrot.

And this? It's not a supernova. It's not the Eye of Sauron. It's a strawberry.

/ Courtesy of Ajay Malghan
Courtesy of Ajay Malghan

These intriguingly abstract images are part of a photo series called Naturally Modified — the brainchild of photographer . To create them, he shines colored lights through thin slices of fruits and vegetables onto light-sensitive paper. So what you end up seeing isn't a picture of the food itself, but an ethereal image of its shadow.

Malghan, a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, began this project two years ago as a statement on genetically modified foods. "There are so many steps introduced from farm to table," he says. "Everything's so processed now. ... They're adding stuff, so why can't I?"

Incongruous colors and extreme close-ups turn familiar food into foreign, almost alien abstractions. "It kind of removes you from it," says Malghan. "It makes you realize how little we know about stuff."

Malghan has experimented with other edibles as well, including deli meats.

/ Courtesy of Ajay Malghan
Courtesy of Ajay Malghan

Although the project began as a statement on GMO foods, he says that it has since taken on a life of its own. And he no longer has a specific goal in mind.

"I don't want someone to go into a gallery and have a preconceived notion," he says. Nowadays, he'd rather have his images appreciated as abstract works of art, and he encourages viewers to walk away with their own interpretations.

"If you can slightly change the way people see or think or perceive, I think that's pretty much it," he says.

So enough talk. Let's leave these pictures to speak for themselves.

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Audrey Carlsen
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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