Monday, February 25, 2013

Hydrocolloid Pantheon: Agar Lady

Here's my second image of my Hydrocolloid Pantheon series: Agar Lady! The first one was Gelatin God (scroll down to see him). Hydrocolloids are those wiggly-jiggly substances that are fun to eat: jellies, marshmallows, that sort of thing. Hydrocolloids can be derived from many different sources. Mammals, fish, algae, fruits, and more!

Agar is not well known in North America. But in Asia (and East Asia in particular) agar has been consumed for hundreds of years. The origins of agar can be traced back to China between 710-794, when a substance very similar to agar was created using red algae.

Agar Lady is surrounded by agar foods such as anmitsu (cubes of agar served with fruit and red bean paste -- upper right), yokan (firm red bean jelly -- upper left), sago gulaman (little balls in a dessert drink -- middle left), jams, preserves, and ptich'ye moloko (bird's milk -- sort of like a meringue or souffle that is made into cakes and candies (bottom right, by the lady's shin). 

I designed Agar Lady to be a companion piece to Gelatin God. I used some of the same colours and designed them to face opposite directions. Here is some of the process work for Gelatin God.

I have a few options for the next image in the series. There's pectin, which is extracted from fruits and is used primarily in jellies, jams, and preserves. There's gum arabic, which is the hardened sap of the acacia tree. It's best known as the binder used in watercolour paints (it's water soluble) and is used in printing and lithography. There's the work horse hydrocolloid called locust bean gum; taken from the seeds of the carob tree and used as a sweetener, as a chocolate substitute, in shoe polish, insecticide, and many other things. We've got guar gum, made from the ground endosperm of guar beans. It's used a lot in commerical bakery to give dough greater resilience, better texture, and longer shelf life. My final candidate is carboxymethyl cellulose, which is synthesized from a chemical reaction. It's used in toothpaste, laundry detergent, eye drops ice packs, and other places where a hypoallergenic and non-toxic hydrocolloid is needed. 

Yeah, I'm seriously nerding out on this. I've actually broken down the visuals as follows:

Gelatin: primal god + Regency England
Agar: Asian + the sea
Pectin: Pomona, Roman goddess of fruitfulness + orchard
Gum arabic: Artsy and colourful, Rainbow Brite-like or Polychrome, L. Frank Baum's colourful nymph girl character from the Oz books + acacia trees
Locust bean gum: Husky workman, maybe Industrial Revolution era 
Guar gum: hearty baker or baker-lady. Rosy cheeked and cheery
Carboxymethyl cellulose: sci-fi look, space age. Maybe a vintage space look from the 50s or 60s. Molecules!

Process work:


-- Julia
Portfolio site

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really cool piece Julia!