Artists Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug made this food-themed image for a Dutch newspaper.

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Dutch artists create a viral sensation with 98 cubes of raw food

Sleuths on Reddit have set out to identify all 98 pieces

CNN  — 

It’s like something from a sushi chef’s dream: 98 painstakingly sliced cubes of raw food, arranged with striking symmetry against a neutral gray backdrop.

At a casual glance, they look like colorful toy blocks. But look closer, and you’ll recognize a grapefruit, an onion, a kiwi and a piece of tuna, among other bite-size morsels.

The eye-catching photo, an Internet sensation this week, was conceived by artists Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug, who were commissioned to make a food-themed image for the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

“Nowadays everyone seems to be obsessed by where does the food that I eat come from. Is it locally produced? Am I only eating non-processed food, etc.?” the Dutch artists wrote in an email. “So we decided to aesthetically process the unprocessed.”

The result has been captivating viewers around the world since it appeared on Bored Panda. The Independent called it “a minimalist’s dream.” BuzzFeed found it “oddly soothing.” Sleuths on Reddit set out to identify all 98 pieces of food.

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It’s just the latest viral project for the duo, who work under the name Lernert & Sander to produce art imagery and installations that comment on society in cheeky ways. Their ironic 2011 video, “Natural Beauty,” showed 365 layers of makeup being applied to the face of Belgian supermodel Hannelore Knuts in one day.

To make their food-cube photo, Engelberts and Plug began by going grocery shopping – mostly for fruits and vegetables.

“We wanted it to be about food that we could get in Amsterdam. What people could recognize,” they said. “And fruit and vegetables are better to recognize as a cube than a cube of raw meat or fish.”

They then used a custom-built machine to slice the foods into uniform cubes with edges measuring 2.5 centimeters, or almost one inch, across.

“We experimented a lot with where to slice the fruit and vegetable to keep it recognizable,” they said. “Cutting up the meat and fish was more of a challenge. But freezing it before cutting helped a lot.”

So enjoy the photo for its artistry, and good luck trying to classify each edible piece. What’s that speckled thing with the seeds? Is that a radish or a coconut? A squash or a mango? This guide may help.

03 Food cubes