Today's Art Mediums Made Out of Yesterday's Technology
What do you see when you look at a busted cell phone or computer monitor? Probably a heap of junk. But as the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's... art. That's the view of a burgeoning number of artists who are repurposing old electronics into works of art.
These objects of geeky creativity might never hang in a museum next to an Italian masterwork, but that's fine by us. After all, who needs the Louvre when you have the Internet? Here's a few of our favorites, culled from the famed galleries of the Web:
Old Cell Phones As Art – Rob Pettit
Some people change cell phones more often than they change underwear. But there's a problem (besides the smell): they're creating a ton of waste. Rob Pettit tries to enlighten us with installations that use hundreds of discarded phones. We'd feel guilty, but we're too busy playing with our new iPhone.
Typewriter Robot – Jeremy Mayer
Jeremy Mayer tears down once-obsolete typewriters and uses the parts to create jaw-dropping, metallic sculptures. Looking upon everything from a screeching cat to a Pixar-esque human bust, it's easy to forget that Mayer's work is simply an amalgamation of gears, springs, and screws.
Virus Sculptures – Forrest McCluer
Forrest McCluer makes viruses, but not in the worm and bot kind of way. McCluer salvages parts from old PCs and creates sculptures of biological organisms, molding parts into captivatingly accurate representations of diseases and infections. Best of all, they won't make you, or your computer, come down with anything nasty.
Nike Sneakers – Gabriel Dishaw
They might not be comfortable to wear, but Gabriel Dishaw's kicks would make any geek salivate. The "Blazer Pentium 1.0" is made from computer circuit boards and weighs nearly 15 pounds, but the level of detail is stunning. We dare you to stare at that swoosh and try not to drool.
Animal Robots – Ann P. Smith
Not only do Ann P. Smith's robot statues look cool, but these bad boys have moving parts, too. Smith builds animal robots (everything from a horse to an owl) from spare electronics, and creates stop-motion footage of her animals in action. That sound you hear is Michel Gondry scrambling to use these in his next film.
Cassette Tape Art – iri5
Celebrity portraits have been done to death, but a young Georgia-based artist known as iri5 has brought new life to the theme by using the cassette tape as a medium. For the youngsters, that's the way us old-timers listened to music before computers. iri5 has immortalized everybody from Alfred Hitchcock to Janis Joplin by unspooling tape onto canvas.
There's nothing small about this sculpture. Made from the amount of electronic waste the average U.K. citizen creates in a lifetime (about 3.3 tons, according to the Web site), The WEEE Man has literally raised environmental awareness, while standing tall for all to see.
Motherboard Mona Lisa – ASUS International
We suspect Leonardo da Vinci is spinning in his grave, but that doesn't mean we don't love this recreation of his famous 'Mona Lisa.' Currently on display in the lobby of a Taiwanese computer parts manufacturer, this work of art is composed of old computer motherboards.
2010 Winter Olympic Medals
While art critics might not agree, you'd have a hard time convincing an athlete with one of these medals draped around his or her neck that it's not an exquisite work of art. For the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, officials decided to melt down gold, silver, and bronze from scrap PCs and use the metals to create the medals.
America is famous for its roadside art. If you're traveling through New Mexico, stop by and check out this giant roadrunner sculpture. It's made from appliance parts, TV antennas, and an assortment of other knick-knacks. We'd bet that not even a box of ACME-brand TNT could topple this statue.
We're ashamed to admit it, but we still have a few cassettes tucked away in our closets. That's why we feel especially guilty after viewing Atlanta-based artist Brian Dettmer's work. He melts down cassettes, which is probably the fate they deserve, and molds them into creepy skulls. It's cool and environmentally friendly, which is everything our shoebox of tapes is not.