In recent years, no other trend has changed our understanding of eating and cooking like that of molecular gastronomy – a discipline concerned with the biochemical and physiochemical processes of food preparation. Work in this field typically involves transforming the characteristics and textures of raw materials through lab procedures and additives. Molecular cookery unites science and manual cooking to form a “culinary science.”
The field of optics plays a special role in this area. Photo designer Thorsten kleine Holthaus has been focusing his attention on imaging possibilities for some time now, and has experimentally photographed dishes produced by avant-garde cuisine. These activities provided the inspiration for his “MESSIER 102 – Food Inspired by Science” photograph collection which features creations by celebrity chef René Bastian Stein. For this collection, kleine Holthaus used imagery which transposes the influences of scientific discoveries onto the art of cooking, thus bringing the observer closer to the aesthetics of molecular gastronomy.
“Since many processes in avant-garde cuisine are scientifically examined and some of them are also observed under the microscope, the obvious next step was to photograph the individual ingredients of the dishes under the microscope,” kleine Holthaus explains. To turn this concept into reality, he used the Axio Scope.A1 microscope from Carl Zeiss. “As the microscope photographs demonstrate, the beauty is in the visible as well as the invisible,” kleine Holthaus comments.
Molecular gastronomy techniques such as inversion and deconstruction are brought to bear on the photography, layout and dramaturgy of the book. The book’s design contains another scientific reference: It was modeled on the catalog of 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier, which was the starting point for the systematic investigation of galaxies and other astronomic objects. The extraordinary collection by kleine Holthaus, which he also submitted to the University of Dortmund as his final paper, impressed the examination committee and additionally received the reddot design award. Through his work, kleine Holthaus has shown that science and indulgence are certainly not mutually exclusive, but can be connected in surprising and beautiful ways.
March 20, 2012