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visual communication practice

Edible Illusions


Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

We began by discussing the video and article provided, which brought up some issues surrounding food, and food production. Then we began to focus on what food means to us. We both agreed that there is a disconnection from where our food comes from to how it ends up on our plate. But an important point that came out of our discussion was that we both often feel guilt about our food choices and how this seems to almost be a cycle that repeats, from awareness to disconnection. We then began to look at some physchological theory involving other emotional cycles, from the grief cycle and finally to the sleep cycle. After researching the sleep cycle, we felt that it had some interesting parallels to how some people might feel about their food choices.

After researching further into the sleep cycle, it was discovered that food and sleep have one particular part of the brain in common: the hypothalamus. As discovered during the 1990s,

"…Masashi Yanagisawa with the help of his colleagues was working with a newly discovered peptide produced in the lateral hypothalamus that influenced food intake in rats. He named it orexin from the Greek word for appetite. He and his colleagues then created a strain of mice that were unable to produce orexin and were studying them for feeding abnormalities by using an infrared camera to record their night time feeding. They were surprised to see that these mice would suddenly fall down while doing ordinary things like moving about or grooming. Suspecting that the rats were having seizures, they monitored their brainwaves and discovered instead that they were suddenly falling asleep just as humans with narcolepsy do," (Moorcraft & Belcher, pg 83).

Therefore there is already a strong relationship between the primary needs of food and sleep. When investigating the affects that the hypothalamus has on appetite, stress levels have a large effect on high fat food intake. The Hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal gland in particular is the central control of the stress response in the brain and therefore motivates calorically dense food intake (Adam & Epel, pg 450).

The solution that we came to after researching into these two areas was to create a visual response combining them both.

Edible Illusions is a story that parallels the five stages of sleep with an obsession to junk food. We wanted to approach the issue from a different perspective; a more neutral perspective. Instead of bringing attention to the size or demographic of a person (which can be seen a lot within the media), this visual exploration has more of an emotive focus because it is an issue that affects people from any walk of life. The physical affects of sleeping are used to explore and understand unhealthy eating habits. Important to the project, is the fact that unhealthy eating is generally acceptable in society. However discrimination seems to happen to those affected by weight gain, or those showing the signs of abuse. This is much like how society is apposed to drug addiction or mental illness which is much more likely to be shunned. However, even those who consume junk food on a small basis are still supporting the production of highly calorific food and poor production processes (including animal mistreatment, food & other waste).

Our message is, eating junk food is like gradually falling asleep.

a. Belcher, P. & Moorcraft, W. (2005) Understanding Sleep and Dreaming, Springer Science & Business Media Inc; New York.

b. Adam, T. Epel, E. (2007) Stress, eating and the reward system, Elsevier, Physchology & Behaviour, ed. 91, pp 449-458, sourced at http://www.foodaddictionsummit.org/documents/StressEatingandtheRewardSystem.pdf

What kind of communication approach do you use?

An interactive website, with film. The imagery is visually powerful and intended to disgust, however combined with the description of the sleep cycle we hope to encourage deeper thought.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

By connecting eating fast food to the sleep cycle, we hope to show the community that eating junk food is like gradually falling asleep. The sleep cycle has five stages that repeat themselves until the person awakens. The benefit, by pointing out this metaphor, is to shift thoughts, emotions and relationships with food. After viewing this, we hope the audience will awaken to the many negative aspects of an unhealthy diet.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

We learnt more about how appetite and sleep needs are created by the hypothalamus, as well as it's connection to food addiction. This also taught us more about ourselves, and our personal relationships with food.

We also learnt more about web design, CSS & HTML.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

Our work is good communication work because it is a piece that encourages interaction. Hopefully through the film and interactivity of the website the message can stay with the person for longer.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

This project was created as a tumblr website which allows the content to be shared easily throughout social networks. We believe that this is an interesting platform to implement this work as well, because a lot of tumblr accounts have a focus or obsession with body image.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

Not at this stage

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Full disclosure: Ashlea and Jack have been students of mine.

Comparing the stages of sleep with a junk food obsession is a simple metaphor: eating junk food is like gradually falling asleep.

This seems like a very gentle critique but because of the strong, simple execution it could be an effective tool for shifting unhealthy eating habits and relationships with food generally.

The scrolling composition combining bold, brief texts bracketed by narrow video fields is very direct and digestible ('scuse the pun).

The subject is framed specifically as a personal issue however the metaphor is also open enough to include the implication of social (un)consciousness.

Perhaps this is where it could expand to?

If falling asleep is a metaphor for eating junk, how could it also relate to our oblivious participation in harmful food systems? Relating the personal/emotional with the broader social subject could increase the project's effectiveness.

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Entry details


Edible Illusions


Eating junk food is like gradually falling asleep

Concept author(s)

Jack Loel & Ashlea Gleeson

Concept author year(s) of birth

1991 & 1985

Concept author(s) contribution

The whole project was worked on together as a team, from conceptualisation until end.



Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory

web / interactive

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Jack - Brisbane Marketing Ashlea - Medium Creative