i. Compositional Means

Your film “Compilation of Genetically Modified Produce Falling from Supermarket Shelves” compiles footage of genetically modified fruits and vegetables falling from supermarket shelves. Genetic modification such as genes and preservatives preserve a produce’s state from decomposition for the span of time spent occupying a space on a supermarket shelf. This span of time is determined by when from the shelf the produce is taken off, either by a human or by gravity. Because I am already familiar with the former, I am particularly interested in this film as it examines the latter. And by examine, I mean compile.

Genetic Modification does not prevent the force of gravity from shortening the span of time non-organic produce spends on a supermarket shelf. This is due to the piling nature by which genetically modified produce exist upon a supermarket shelf: a stack. This compilation shows that the process by which they are modified by genetic means of production does not ‘make’ ‘them’ ‘fit’.

This was easily relatable to me because most of the people I know decompose at a rate more relatable to this characteristic found in the composition of genetically modified produce rather than their organic counterparts. This past year, my father and I were drinking nonfat cappuccinos for here on the patio of our local Starbucks that was embedded in the entrance of our local supermarket. Though the windows were covered by thick, loose sheets of translucent white plastic, I saw my reflection stretched across the glass of the pastry display, dispersed and encoded with signs signifying each product’s name and calorie content, nearly synonymous with the accompanying television and billboard campaign for this line of bran-based pastries. The promotional campaign advertised these whole grain and bran pastries as a healthier, more holistic option through the image of a nude, ethnically diverse model who held progressive standards of beauty as well as cranberry scones and blueberry muffins, which censored while echoing the lines of her cheek and waist respectively. Part of the success of this campaign was due to the flattening aspect of digital recording; the lines of the body became one with the lines of the product and thus the brand of the bran products. Over a litigious cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” that incorporated a Steinway piano’s augmented 7th chords in place of Young’s major, the televised portion of the campaign involved the model stretching across a charcoal-grey backdrop, products appearing whenever she was about to reveal too much of herself. The commercial’s voice-over, the billboard copy, and the associated social media campaign all state with the smiling face of the nude model: “Your Body is a Temple” and in smaller font “#WorshipYourBody.”

We sat down in the patio by the parking lot, and he propped his phone against one of the nonfat cappuccinos, gesturing to look at the back-facing camera. We both smiled. After he showed me the resulting image on his watch and saying how much my mother would love it, my father and I began a prolonged discussion on how we occupied our time since the last time we saw each other. When his cup hit the table, I saw something, an off-white, sink into the foam. I put my hand over his mug. Both his hands wrapped around its mouth. The shadow of a plane passed over his face. Foam speckled the stubble around his jaw. Let me have it/no. He tried to pull it from my hands. At the time, I was younger and in prime health, so I barked at him. It could have been a harmful parasitic insect, in my mind.

I strained the liquid through my fingers into my empty mug. After setting down the cup, I wiped off my fingers on a recycled-paper napkin and noticed that at the bottom of my father’s cup was a tooth. My father chuckled and revealed the gap left in the front of his mouth. He was sticking his tongue into the hole, laughing when he began choking. He coughed up some teeth on to the table. He stuck a fist into his mouth to pull out the teeth, but choked on his fingers. He coughed up his pinkie with his molars so hard his face hit the table. When he lifted his head, his nose had stayed behind on the table. With his one hand left, he gripped up his nose to screw it on right, turning too fast. His nose was twisted with his nostrils underneath his eyelid, and his hand was on backwards. While his hand twitched at his mouth, his hair slid from his head and inch-wormed then flickered into a crack in the pavement, brightened by some rhythm of light from passing clouds. He was out of places. Even the photos I have of him have become combinations of various parts.

Genetic-modification postpones the decomposition of produce in the manner by which scientific progress allowed my father to decompose at the proper time, with his son at Starbucks and espresso and foamy milk drinks. I shudder at the thought that he could have been driving down the freeway or holding a baby child or perhaps even a priceless glass bowl when his decomposition occurred. Genetically modified produce does not bruise as badly as organic produce. This makes the violence in your film palatable. Sometimes I wish for nicer clothes. Despite their mushy insides, fruits and vegetables are always appealing because of their skin.

back to the top ⤴︎