Given the subject matter of this blog, most of the artists, designers, and architects who I write about aren’t exactly in the business of deception. For this post, reality and transparency have gone on holiday, replaced with the truly exquisite, eye-tricking works of New Jersey-based artist Matthew Albanese.

When looking at the below photo you might think, “Wow, what a dramatic photo of a tornado” not “Wow, what an interesting photo of ground parsley, cotton, moss and steel wool.” Well, that’s what you are looking at: ground parsley, cotton, moss and steel wool painstakingly arranged to look like a tornado sweeping across a plain. 

Creating "Strange Worlds," Albanese spends weeks constructing small-scale models of dramatic natural landscapes using common, household materials ranging from paprika to tile grout to fireplace ash. Next, he photographs his miniature faux worlds, employing a variety of photographic techniques that alter the appearance of the materials.

"Tornado" - steel wool, cotton, ground parsley, moss
Part of the fun of "Strange Worlds" is that Albanese discloses what exact materials went into building each of his models. And again, it’s primarily not stuff you’d find at a hobbyist's or art supply store but rather stuff you’d find in the kitchen, garage and garden shed.
All of Albanese’s "Strange Worlds" can be viewed on both his Flickr page and Facebook fan page, including behind-the-scenes glimpses of works-in-progress. Additionally, Albanese has an upcoming exhibition, American ReConstruction. It opens at the Winkleman Gallery in New York City on May 7. 
"Fields, After the Storm" - faux fur, cotton, sifted tile grout
Tile grout, moss, bottle brushes, ground cover, outdoor patio table
"Breaking Point" - tile grout, phosphorous ink, cotton
"Icebreaker" - sugar, salt, egg whites, corn syrup, cream of tartar, powdered sugar, blue food coloring, india ink, flour
Behind the scenes of "Icebreaker"

Related on MNN: Want more cool photos? Check out the Documerica Project.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

'Strange Worlds': More than meets the eye
'Strange Worlds' artist Matthew Albanese raids the spice cabinet — and other areas of the home — for his series of super realistic mock landscape photograph