Navid Baraty’s “Wander” photographs look like extra-solar images taken by NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft. But they’re actually something else entirely: food from the Brooklyn photographer’s pantry, scanned on an Epson flatbed printer.
“I’ve had a fascination with space ever since I was a kid camping in the backyard and looking at the stars through my childhood telescope,” Baraty tells me. “I thought it would be fun and exciting to frame the project around the idea of this imaginary spacecraft called Wander roaming around the universe taking photos of its encounters.” Baraty even came up with a whole story about how NASA handpicked him to be the lead image processor for Wander’s photos, but people fell for the joke, so he eventually copped to the fact that the images weren’t real.
Instead, they’re made with food on a flatbed scanner. It’s a simple technique worthy of any sci-fi special effects artist. In Baraty’s photography, a swirl of olive oil might reveal a nebula. A glass of milk, water, and food coloring becomes a planet, while a liberal handful of kosher salt stands in for the stars.
“The images are made by placing the objects on an Epson photo scanner and then making a scan with the lid open,” Baraty explains. “The planets and moons are made by scanning the bottoms of glasses containing the liquids. The liquids naturally create the shapes and swirls that you see in the images when they mix. The stars and other points of light are made by sprinkling spices and the other ingredients around the scanner glass.”
Even though it’s just food photography masquerading as satellite imagery, Baraty hopes his photographs will inspire the people who see them with a desire to explore the universe for real. Space, after all, is an unending smorgasbord which we have barely even begun to graze.
You can see more of his photographs here