When buying vegetables at the grocery store, most of us never think about where the lettuce was planted or how long it took the broccoli to grow.

But during the Sundance Film Festival, shoppers at Park City's Fresh Market (formerly Albertsons) can watch the entire life cycle of their produce before they put it into their grocery cart.

Matthew Moore, a fourth-generation Arizona farmer, combined his family's agriculture business with his love of art to create "Lifecycles."

The art exhibit consists of a series of four time-lapsed videos, 1 to 2 minutes long, each following a different vegetable, such as radishes, broccoli, squash and lettuce, from seed to harvest. The films include ambient field noises, like wind and rain, as well as microscopic sounds to match the plant's growth.

Matthew Moore, a vegetable farmer whose farm is near Phoenix, shows off a solar-powered camera inside weather-proof housing. This is one of the cameras he used to record the growing cycle of several vegetables. His time-lapse photos are on display at the Fresh Market in Park City and the Park City Mall on Main Street, part of the Sundance Film Festival. (Paul Fraughton/ The Salt Lake Tribune)

For the exhibit, Moore installed the video screens directly over the corresponding vegetables so shoppers can see how their produce came to life.

The installation is part of Sundance's New Frontier program. Besides the store presentation, Moore has a second video display at the New Frontier on Main location.

On a recent afternoon, shopper Danielle Hendee was intrigued by the squash video, which is about 1 minute long as it details the plant's 55-day growing cycle.

"It definitely brings something different into the grocery shopping experience, but I like it," Hendee said. "It makes me wish the snow was gone and I could plant a garden."

Shopper Hector Muñoz said he would often take photos of the produce growing on his family farm in Chile, but the pictures were nothing like Moore's videos. "It's interesting to see the process," he said.

That kind of fascination was part of Moore's goal. His family operates a large conventional farm and two smaller organic farms on 1,200 acres about 35 miles outside Phoenix. Like many urban farmers, the family has watched urban sprawl encroach on its livelihood.

Moore, who has a degree in economics, Spanish and art history, hopes more stores will carry his films as a way to reconnect farmers who grow food to the consumers who purchase and eat it. "It shows that it's not just our farm," he said.

Jordan Hill, the produce manager at Fresh Market, likes the idea. "It's really cool," he said of the videos, "and relevant where it's at."

Fittingly, he said, the radishes stocked at the Park City store are the same ones that grow on Moore's Arizona farm, something neither the filmmaker nor the store realized until the project was setting up last week.

On his farm, Moore said, the time-lapse cameras are solar operated and protected from the weather. They snap a photograph every 15 minutes. When the photos are linked together, they show hours, days and weeks passing quickly.

"Lifecycles" is part of a larger project funded by Creative Capital, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to experimental art. Moore is developing an archive of what he terms "living films," sending time-lapse cameras to farmers from Idaho to Italy.

The goal is to record the growth of hundreds of plants and trees for posterity. As global warming changes climates, farmers will have to grow different things, he said. He hopes his project can provide a visual record of what the plants look like, how they grow and what they require to survive.

"Hopefully it can be used for a lot of different things," he said.

Besides just grocery-store entertainment.


Watch 'Lifecycles' before you buy

The 1- to 2-minute films can be seen in the produce section of the Park City Fresh Market, (formerly Albertson's) at 1760 Park Ave., Park City, during regular business hours. A smaller installation can be seen at the New Frontier on Main exhibit, 333 Main St., Park City.

Learn more about Moore and his artwork and farm at www.urbanplough.com.