Un·parched is a collection of mixed media art that reterritorializes a rustic kitchen discard material — used parchment paper — into a series of transcendent digital artworks. The artworks feature organic textures caused by moisture, heat, aroma, and residue ported into a vibrant digital environment. They tell stories about sustenance, vitality, and transformation. With thematic elements scaling across cells, cities, and imagined universes, Un·parched captures the complexities of livelihood and loss amidst entropic chaos. At the heart of this collection is a deep rooted desire to find and celebrate organic beauty in the most unexpected places.
Parchment paper is a convenient compostable kitchen tool that I often use to line baking trays for veggie dinner roasts (a staple at my house!). It is meant to act as a temporary layer separating the vessel (sheet pan) from the sustenance (roasted vegetables, for example) and then be discarded. In practice, discarding this humble material allows us to cleanly efface traces of process from the kitchen environment once the sustenance and vessel diverge during consumption. Though, if spared the destiny of the trash bin, the used parchment paper possesses a deeper identity; it is marked with the potent residues of gastronomic transformation, the process that renders organic ingredients into consumable sustenance. By uncovering this identity, Un·parched examines the untapped storytelling capacities of used parchment paper.
In general, we appropriate various modes of digitality to preserve the ephemeral aspects of our lives (like phone cameras to capture visual memories of fleeting moments, text editors to add verbal form to our flowing thoughts, or voice recordings to save sonic impressions of our surroundings). We edit, modify, manipulate, and adapt these digital media to create meaning (art, poetry, music, etc). Un·parched explores this canonical pattern of preservation and transformation of the ephemeral, in the setting of the kitchen. This uncanny collection broaches a striking visual fidelity to digitally embed the essence of culinary process by centering one of its disposable byproducts. The digital artworks of Un·parched are composed of textures extracted from photographs of various used parchment papers that I produced over the years.
The process of digitally “rehydrating” what has been “parched” is at the thematic epicenter of this collection. Used parchment paper is a living material that has been struck by forces of entropy in the kitchen. Grease and crystallized herbs cling to its surface, which is blotched, charred, rippled, and in some places burnt in the irregular shapes of organic ingredients that emitted steam and caramelized under high heat. Left untouched, the used parchment paper is fragile and begins to rot, collect dust, become stale, and ultimately succumb to its destiny by design — to be discarded. On the other hand, the digital treatment of Un·parched has a reinvigorated gravity that enlivens rather than decays. The residual heat and rot clinging to the parchment visibly cuts through layers of digital manipulation, creating exquisite conversations about transformation between organic and manufactured textures.
The digital embeddings of these transformed parchment papers are a playground for exploring destructive and enlivening forces in a variety of contexts.
“blague” uses beet root-imprinted parchment as the visual language to characterize a life-force that presides in all of our conscious units, from cells to planets to entire universes and realms. On the flip side, the same textures evoke decay, nostalgia, and ruin in “cityscape atop humus, underground, after hours” and loss, longing, plague, and distress in “get your galoshes.”
The bright tapestry-like visual of “cobbler’s manuscript” evokes an energy of order amidst chaos while “psychosoma of an artichoke” and “corrugated victuals” use similar phenotypic elements to lean into disordered beauty, psychedelic chaos, and corrupted realities.
Where “ghost orchard (graveyard)” uses repetition to haunt, “pellicule for discard” uses it to mesmerize.
Each of these artworks unveils a fresh take on the common thread of this collection — how at the root of all of our realities is a pervasive transformation of organic materials into sustenance that gives life.
artwork labels, in order: “cityscape atop humus, underground, after hours” — “blague” — “get your galoshes“ — “cobbler’s manuscript” — “psychosoma of an artichoke” — “pellicule for discard” — “exoskeleton” — “corrugated victuals” — “ghost orchard (graveyard)”