If the tear away success of video-sharing portal You Tube has a lesson to impart it is that people – in the name of diversion, in pursuit of entertainment – will watch anything. Speed Painting with Ketchup and French Fries, uploaded by user EclecticAsylum less than a week ago, has already drawn a global audience of 100,0000 unique viewers. A portrait in video of a portrait in sauce and chips, the painted subject is Morgan Spurlock, a documentarian and anti-McDonalds figurehead. Spurlock rose to prominence, and to new calorific heights, with the 2004 feature Super Size Me – a film whose premise might be neatly surmised in the image, widely circulated during the film’s promotional flurry, of a furrow-browed Spurlock, mouth crammed full of Macca’s famous french fries. It is this image to which EclecticAsylum has turned his brush – or rather his individual-serve condiment packets.
A still camera focuses on a blank page from which the contours of Spurlock’s chip-ravaged face begin to emerge. The subject is sketched in outline, the artist daubing ketchup upon the fresh surface with the aid of a solitary fry. The chin is a slender arc of sauce, the nostrils, two jabs of a chip. Spurlock’s hair, helpfully ginger, takes shape with the application of red goop direct from the sauce packet. At 2 minutes 45 seconds, Morgan Spurlock’s saucy visage seems near completion. Hairy forearm reaches to the top left of the frame, transplanting golden rods of potato to the center of his painting, and of Spurlock’s gaping mouth. The likeness is uncanny and unappetizing.