When caught out of the corner of your eye, Carl Warner’s work may seem like a beautiful cityscape, a dense forest or a barren desert—but look for a second longer and its uncanny nature comes into full force. From Foodscapes and Pizzascapes to Bodyscapes, the vast majority of Carl Warner’s work takes one raw material and twists it until it resembles a natural, life size scene.
Somewhat reminiscent of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s infamous surreal portraits, Warner’s work goes to the extreme to combine modern photographic technologies and edits with the careful construction, carving and placement of food items in order to create something uncannily real—and altogether unique.
Low to High
Born in 1963, Warner attended the Maidstone College of Art with the intention of becoming an illustrator. However, when experimenting with various mediums he found photography to be a more exciting, thrilling alternative. Thus, he moved to the London College of Printing and attained a degree in photography, film and television.
After graduation, he became an assistant for Knightsbridge-based photographer David Lowe, eventually setting up his own studio from which he began creating work for advertising agencies and more.
Warner recalls that in 1998 he picked up a Portabella mushroom in a market, “held it up to the light and imagined that it was some kind of canopy tree in an alien world”. This spurred him to take the inspiring fungus back to his studio and pair it with some beans and rice to create his first Foodscape.
After creating the first, he slowly became hooked fleshing out his portfolio to include different environments and food items—eventually being picked up by the media and going viral across the globe.
The virality of his images is also, in part, due to exactly what they are—images. Given that Warner’s works are photographs, they play well into the hands of online viewership allowing the easy sharing, enjoyment and bemusement at his captivating edible landscapes.
Beyond the Foodscape
After perfecting the Foodscape, Warner applied a similar philosophy to create the Bodyscape. Although this idea is arguably less original, the images themselves are no less captivating—crafting organic human bodies into glorious mountain ranges, deserts and rolling sand dunes.
More recently, Warner also established his own production company known as Frooty Films—which creates television commercials—again with a focus on food. And, of course, Warner’s focus on food resounds well within culinary industries.
After years of development and exposure, Warner has also mobilized his images to signal global change related to the perception and future of food. In 2012 he published his second book, aimed at children, comprised of iconic mono-chromatic foodscapes alongside poems which aimed to alter children’s perception of food and educate them about healthy eating.
On a larger scale, for The Milan Expo in 2015, Warner partnered with UK Trade and Investment to display the UK’s impact in global agriculture innovation—pushing for positive and sustainable change.
Although Warner’s Foodscapes may first appear to be a gimmick to first-time viewers, his absolute dedication to food-related film and photography has created a formidable body of work that not only pushes the boundaries of accepted arts, but also actively seeks to change the world for the better.