Visual arts

1400 PLUs and counting…

This project has been brewing in various ways since I started noticing stickers on fruits and vegetables in the 1990s. Officially known as PLU codes (price look-up), these stickers first contained bar codes only. Soon, logos, marketing messages, and, more recently, URLs were added. Most fruits now appear in grocery stores with these little “billboards” on them.

Around 1400 PLUs are in circulation around the world. For me, they symbolize the commercialization of basic food commodities. They turn your banana or a lettuce head into a “value-added vegetable product” that can be added to international supply chains, packaged and advertised. Is this a good thing? I’ll leave that up to the viewer to decide.

melon-head-sticker-doll3

Sticker doll

Mixed media. Cloth pre-fabricated mannequin doll on wood stand. PLU codes (collected in 2012-2013 in Canada, England, The Netherlands), kitchen plastic wrap, kitchen foil, buttons.

PLU II

Mixed media. Banana, bamboo stick, thread, PLU code. Music credit: re-mix Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Erik Satie