Brain Pickings

Gadget Sculptures: The Afterlife of Devices

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What bionic mosquitoes have to do with vintage cinema and sustainability.

Given the passionate love affair most of us have with our gadgets, we give surprisingly little thought to their afterlife. And when we do, it’s for purely utilitarian concerns of reselling and recycling. But for old gizmos can actually provide a fascinating and unusual canvas and raw material for art. Here are three artists who create fantastic and fantastical sculptures from old gadgets, breathing a new kind of animated whimsy into what was once a mere conduit of communication.

JEREMY MAYER

Artist Jeremy Mayer is part MacGuyver, part Michelangelo. He disassembles old typewriters and reassembles them into fantastic full-scale, anatomically correct sculptures that emanate a kind of techno-dystopian romanticism.

He uses no glue, soldering or welding, just pure physics and patience.

I do not introduce any part in the assemblage that did not come from a typewriter.” ~ Jeremy Mayer

Mayer’s sculptures embody the haunting retro-futurism of Fritz Lang’s aesthetic — something particularly timely given this month’s highly anticipated DVD release of the complete restored Metropolis.

MIKE RIVAMONTE

Mike Rivamonte creates delightfully playful robots from vintage cameras, radios, microphones and other antique ephemera, some more than a century old. Each of the robots has its own personality, infused with the kind of charm that Rivamonte’s whimsical touch brings out of the cold metal parts.

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STEVEN RODRIG

Cuban-born artist Steven Rodrig creates sculptures that hit the spot for art lovers, geeks and environmentalists alike. Made of recycled circuit boards and other computer parts, his remarkable creations range from insects to flowers to intricate cityscapes, rescuing PCBs from the landfills they would otherwise haunt for a few thousand years.

My goal is to manipulate each PCB into becoming an organic life form “~ Steven Rodrig

And on an important PSA aside, recycling your electronics is no small matter. Even if you can’t masterfully reassemble them into artistic creations, it doesn’t mean you can’t dispose of them responsibly — just consult this handy EPA guide to e-cycling.

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