Food for Thought: Creating Edible Illusions--and Great Art [Slide Show]

This is the 10th article in the Mind Matters series on the neuroscience behind visual illusions.
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Mouthwatering masterpieces

If you agree that jelly-bean pointillism is a great idea, you'll also be sure to appreciate these replicas of famous masterpieces. Everything in the accompanying images is fit for human consumption.....[ More ]

Edible pointillism

Pointillist painters such as Seurat and Signac juxtaposed multiple individual points to create color blends that were very different from the colors in the original dots. But in a very real sense, all art is pointillism.....[ More ]

Chicken and egg

Spanish artist Din Matamoro provides a unique perspective on developmental biology's most fundamental question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg ? In Matamoro's fried eggs, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in an unusual and slightly unsettling fashion: the shape of each fried egg resembles the chicken that the egg would have become—or, perhaps, the hen that laid the egg in the first place.....[ More ]

Medusa Marinara

Brazilian-origin artist Vik Muniz also likes to play with his food. His "Medusa Marinara" is a visual pun on Caravaggio's Medusa, and it portrays an illusion of ambiguity that works at multiple levels.....[ More ]

Foodscape 2

Here's another example of how the brain puts together information from multiple streams. Visual data from each point of the image is transduced from light to electrochemical signals in the retina, and then transmitted to the brain where individual features are constructed from the information in the image.....[ More ]


Art can be more than just a feast for your eyes. The images in the accompanying slide look, at first sight, like paintings of regular landscapes. But look closer: these are actual photographs of food stuffs laid out to re-create various types of scenery and terrains.....[ More ]

A lot to digest

Arcimboldo's composite heads demonstrate that, neuroscientifically speaking, the whole can be much more than the sum of the parts. Clever arrangements of individual fruits, flowers, legumes and roots become exquisite portraiture in their entirety, such as in the likeness of Rodolfo II of Hapsburg [ left ], here depicted as Vertunno, the god of transformations, or in the artist's self-portraits as Summer and Autumn [ middle and right ].....[ More ]

Same ordinary bowl of veggies--or is it?

Turned upside down, the bowl of vegetables from the previous slide becomes a whimsical portrait of a man's head, replete with bowler hat.

There are several interesting aspects to this illusion.....[ More ]

An ordinary bowl of veggies

This still life by Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo includes the ingredients for his favorite minestrone soup, and the bowl in which to serve it. But look again: there is something else hidden in the veggies.....[ More ]

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