I realised this evening that writing about food and writing about art are very different things. Perhaps, to state the obvious, they are.
A friend Kitty and I just returned from being treated to a five-course meal at the Ubiquitous Chip, to celebrate the westend establishment’s 40th anniversary. For the series of events The Chip have invited artist Alasdair Gray, alongside Carol Wright, Neil Butler and Debs Norton, to develop a series of 3D animations to occupy the menu over the course of the evening. I’m probably a purist but I had always thought good food was ’3D’ enough for my liking…. but I’m no AA Gill.
On that basis Iíll leave the really wonderful food aside, (it was in fact fantastic, especially the Seafood Trinity and the oatmeal ice creamÖ I even broke my feeble vegetarianism to try the very rich shin of beef) and focus on the atmosphere and experience that the visuals created. Having been provided with a set of specs, we were guided through the various courses by a series of animations; wire-frame versions of salmon, cows and onions, accompanied by a looping drone of a soundtrack, I presume not created by Gray unless David Hockney has suddenly introduced him to a CAD programme. Itís quite a bizarre sensation be swallowed into the mouth of a large salmon just as its presented to you on a plate. As each course is brought to the table a new passage of animation explores the ingredients, itís just that Iíd rather have concentrated on what I was eating, not least actually see it.
The only definite contribution by Gray to the evening is a huge double sized projection on a back wall. The beautiful rolling scenes of a peculiar landscape of forest and seascapes look more like the illustration of Tove Jansson than the distinctive bold lines of his usual work, one thing that does remain constant is the luscious and vibrant colour within the works. You didnít really need the 3D glasses to view this; the real shame was the work not being the main attraction for the night.
Admittedly thereís something quite staid about our traditional dining experience, but Iím not sure some ambient music and illustrative visuals can really alter that experience in such a great wayÖ perhaps food should stay on the plate and if you want to see Grayís work in true 3D then just wait a couple of months until itís on show as part of British Art Show 7 at GOMA.