Published on April 8th, 2010 | by tomdavie
Incredible Sculptures Created from Recycled Circuit Boards
It’s incredible just what you can do with a few old printed circuit boards and a bit of imagination. Steven Rodrig has created these hauntingly beautiful pieces from the innards of dead computers, reprocessing their abandoned circuitry into animals and plants from the natural world. Chipsets, wires and ports become turtles, cacti and dragonflies. There’s even a pair of sexy high-heels in there too…
- Circuit Board Ladies Shoes
In an age where circuit boards are fast becoming one of the most dangerous sources of waste – containing, as they do, toxic chemicals such as mercury and lead – they not only pollute our environment, but also pose a serious threat to the natural habitat. Rodrig has devised a way of recycling them for an aesthetic, rather than functional, purpose.
You can almost hear them whirring away in the background as you cast your eye over them. These electronic creatures seem closer to a vision of a post-apocalyptic digital future than to nature as we know it, yet somehow their beauty is fascinatingly appealing.
A pixelated turtle bleeps and fizzes as it works its way through a future digital ocean; the dragonfly puts one more in mind of an electronic instrument of airborne death than the cute spring dragonflies of our childhood; high heels belong to a sexy robot diva from the future, her sensuous flesh replaced by plastic, her emotions programmed through chipsets.
These elegant creations inhabit the intersection between the electronic, new-age technological and the natural, age-old organic. They present us with a hybrid of how things are, how they once were, and what they might be like in the future: just look at the cactus, one of the hardiest and oldest plants in the natural kingdom, here recreated from geometric electronic components and conductive pathways – its survival guaranteed in the cold, electronic future.
But the standout aspect of these pieces is their beauty. Somehow, I feel warmth towards that cold, emotionless cyber dragonfly. I’d like to own it and to look at it every day. So too, I’d like to meet the owner of those robotic high heels and unearth the soul from within her virtual casing… OK, perhaps I’m getting carried away, but you see the power these pieces have to incite feeling, story and genuine curiosity.
There is, of course, another story at work here too: that of the printed circuit boards that have gone into these sculptures. Rodrig is keen to promote the use of discarded electronic waste as a form of recycling, and ultimately art. His work encourages us to find beauty in technology and understand how it can be reincarnated over and over again with a multitude of different purposes and effects.
The relationship between art and recycling is complex and intersecting. Recycling gives new purpose to objects or materials by re-assembling them; similarly, art generates significance in objects through their arrangement and re-arrangement. Both are, essentially, processes for conferring renewed significance on already existing objects. The best art inhabits the grey area between the two, where the boundary between re-assembly for a functional purpose, and for aesthetic effect, becomes uncertain, unstable – and ultimately recedes behind the beauty of the work.
Rodrig’s art certainly inhabits this zone. It uses recycling to create artistic significance – but it also uses art to recycle materials that would otherwise have no place. Gloriously self-contained, endlessly elegant, these sculptures might just also have the added benefit of inspiring other individuals to get creative and manufacture their own incredible recycled art too.