Work / Photography

Bompas & Parr create Man vs Gut – an exploration of the relationship between humans and hunger

Bompas and Parr has created a short film and series of photographs in collaboration with Addie Chinn that explore the relationship between humans and hunger. Man vs Gut records the stomach grumbles and rumbles of a host of subjects who had been asked to fast for 10 days before the shoot. “The project captures the sensations of pleasure when each participant took their first bite, how their hands guided food into their mouth and what emotions were felt during those moments of anticipation, joy and relief,” say the duo.

The participants were fed as the images were made and the film was shot with a menu devised by the creatives. “It was fascinating to see how eager everyone was to take part and have their hungry bare bellies exposed. We made an array of food on the day of filming, from fish finger sandwiches, Chinese dumplings to spaghetti with tomato sauce,” says Harry Parr. “It was an ear opening experience to hear so much about the emotional relationship everyone has with their own stomach.”

“As humans, we can all relate to the sensations of hunger and the embarrassment that naturally overwhelms us when loud unexpected rumbles are heard from the belly,” says Bompas and Parr “[We] documented what our stomachs desire the most when appetite levels peak and now our guts can have control over our food choice, as well as our emotional and physical reactions.”

This new film follows on from another short released earlier this year that explored sexual attraction to food through the act of ‘sploshing’.

The project was inspired by a series of conversations with Dr Simon Anderson at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, a regular collaborator with Bompas and Parr. The duo were keen to discuss what the medical reasons for the strange sounds, medically termed borborygmia, in the gut actually were. “Borborygmia is thought to reflect contractions (peristalsis) of the upper gastrointestinal tract, principally the stomach. As the stomach has a bigger capacity to contain air, it hence produces more sound compared to the smaller diameter intestines, which also have less vigorous contractions,” says Simon. “Borborygmias can also occur due to aerophagia (unconscious swallowing of air – which can be due to subconscious thoughts about food or psychological problems like anxiety)."

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