Cake-Thirty: The Seven-Digit Decision

Cake-Thirty: The Seven-Digit Decision. Acrylic on canvas, 12x12 Cake-Thirty: The Seven-Digit Decision Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, 2016 by Sarah Atlee. $430 For purchase inquiries, contact Cerulean Gallery at 214.564.1199.

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Remember that study done a few years ago about the prefrontal cortex and willpower? Here's the gist, from a Wall Street Journal article by Jonah Lehrer:

"In one experiment, led by Baba Shiv at Stanford University, several dozen undergraduates were divided into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad.

Here's where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Prof. Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain—they were a "cognitive load"—making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation."

I'm a cake person. I'm a life's-too-short-to-not-order-dessert person. Here's to choosing the cake.


About the Glitch Series

In the Glitch series, I use vibrant acrylic paintings to reimagine traditional still lifes for the digital age. My recent compositions combine tempting, succulent foods with "glitches" painted directly onto the canvas. An avocado is interrupted by the irregular curves of a cracked screen. The natural beauty of an heirloom tomato is marred by low-resolution errors and broken pixels.

Historically, still life paintings are windows onto impossibly perfect worlds. This illusion of perfection continues into our daily lives on the Internet, as we live from one Insta-worthy moment to another. Why not use the flaws of online technology to break into that illusion?

Cake-Thirty is available at Cerulean Gallery as part of the exhibition On Edge Part I, featuring work by Sarah Atlee, Fritz Danner, Nic Noblique, and Victoria Taylor-Gore, on display 16 September – 28 October 2016. Visit Cerulean Gallery to learn more.