Wednesday, November 21, 2012


TECH-DAWN:  Recently finished small wall work, 28" x 18".   The title refers to the dawn of the Tech Era: the idea of insetting one half of a circular gold circuit (surrounded by the upward-radiating circuitry) and the notion of dawn of a new age, came about simultaneously.  The lower half of the piece is what I call the "story", a device I've used several times before over the years.  As with ancient Egyptian or Mayan or Assyrian stellae, at the top is usually the featured element, the "what" or "who" the monument represents, and the lower part elaborates with the story or history.  In the case of these circuitry pieces it's not meant to be anything literal, just abstract, but suggestive.

In the center of the "story" of TECH-DAWN (also PALEOTECH) is a circuit from my zoo collection which I've always seen as a monkey struggling or fighting with something, so I call it my Hanuman circuit, after the Hindu myth about the heroic monkey who fought demons.  Not much to do with technology, unless there is good tech and evil tech. 

As said elsewhere, the circuitry in my large collection is all vintage -- ancient in technological terms.   Most contemporary circuitry looks nothing at all like this, and is far less visually fascinating.

 The circuitry design around the edge of the wall work

Many of the works posted on this blog will eventually be placed on the website


 PALEOTECH :  A recently completed smaller wall work, 22" x 14.5".  The title refers to the beginnings of the Tech Era.  Think of fossil trilobites or other primitive life-forms, or even dinosaurs: these circuits are the equivalent for technology.  A few thousand years from now, tell me if you don't agree.

Monday, October 29, 2012


HIGGS BOSON:  a recently completed chest, 23.5" x 9" x 7".     Its title came to mind because the circuitry pattern made me think of sub-nuclear particle interactions, and coinciding with the work's completion, physicists at CERN in Geneva announced the first likely detection of the long-sought Higgs boson particle.  Predicted mathematically decades ago, all of the theories of the universe have hinged on the reality of this elusive particle.  

So now we can soundly sleep.  

Just a title, but I like to have fun with the titles.  I can always argue the circuits made me do it.

 The image below is of the back of the chest, which looks almost exactly like the front except for the hinges.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Heian is a chest which was designed a few years ago and was partially completed but was set aside until I decided which circuitry to feature in the center of the top.  When I went back to it a few weeks ago, the solution was immediately clear.  I knew from the beginning that it wanted to have a vaguely Japanese esthetic, and the circuitry used in the center (strange circuitry - no idea what it was intended for) works perfectly.  The title chosen is for the period in Japanese history which is about the same time that William the Conqueror invaded England, and is when in Japan  Lady Murasaki composed the world's first novel, The Tale of Gengi .     Dimensions:  14" x 8.5" x 6"H

Detail views of the hinges & lid-stay:  as with other chests, the hardware is visually minimized so as not to distract from the circuitry design.  The hinges on the interior are buried beneath the circuitry, and the lid-stay is a blackened guitar string.  From the back the hinges are so unnoticeable that it's easy to mistake the back for the front.  

 All of this may seem trivial except that the idea behind all of these chests is to create something familiar, something ancient while at the same time futuristic, but something that would seem to fit with any museum's collection of whatever period the esthetics suggest.  While the overall design may be mine, the design of the material itself was never made for eyes to see -- it was only for function, covered with components and buried within some machine.  This is my way of revealing the inherent beauty of the circuitry, but the concept really works only if the object is perfect in its making, and you can accept it as readily as any other treasure in a museum's collection.  Whether it's at least equal as an object of art is something for others to decide.


Two views of the sculpture with its base which was completed recently.  (Scroll down to see other views, including back, from an earlier post).  Dimensions with base:  32"H x 19" x 14"

Skymap (completed)

 SKYMAP is a recently completed circuitry chest in a free-form design, 17" x 13" x 6"H.  It somehow reminded me of a chart of the constellations, hence the title.  Since it's a lot less trouble to upload images to the blog rather than my website (which requires my webmaster), I probably will upload selected works to the website only periodically.  If any of the images are not of sufficient resolution, better image files can be emailed on request.                                                  

As with all of the chests, the hardware is minimized so there is no visual distraction from the graphics of the circuitry.  On the interior the hinges are buried beneath the circuitry material, and the lid-stay is simply a blackened strand of guitar string.  The view of the back shows that the butts of the hinges are nearly invisible. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Mughal (20" x 7" x 5"H) is a chest which was recently completed though planned long ago.  In the late 90's, through an art dealer in New York City, through another art dealer in Florida, and through Harrod's of London,  a chest was commissioned by a certain Sultan for his priceless antique dagger.   The Sultan had previously purchased two other of my chests through the same chain of middlemen, but for this commission he wanted the circuitry to be all in gold, and so from vintage circuitry in my collection the design was created and all of the circuitry was reproduced by a circuit manufacturer completely in 24K gold instead of the usual base metals.
Because I needed to have a spare piece of each circuit in case of mistakes, etc., all of the gold circuitry needed for the Sultan's commission was duplicated, and except for the piece which goes inside the lid, all ended up as leftovers.  As I wished, these would be available to create another nearly identical chest someday.  Partly finished a few years ago, I decided it's time to complete it and offer it.    The interior space of the chest is about 20" x 5.5" x 3.5"   On the bottom of the inside (as with all the chests) is a removable black velvet-covered board under which the piece is signed, dated and titled.

My working title has been "The Sultan's Leftovers" but in keeping with the way I've titled other pieces, it has been named for the Mughal (or Mogul) period of art which flourished in India from the Muslim conquest in the 1500's until the time of the British Empire.      

Monday, April 30, 2012


Epoch   (34" x 25.5") is a recently completed wall work.  Art shouldn't need an explanation, but its title came about because the gold disc suggested the sun and the lower section represented the passage of time.  For those anticipating the end of times this year, it might have been named By the Mayan Calendar except that I used that very title for a work created many years ago.  (The gold in this piece is actually pure gold circuitry).


Eiffel-dream 2  (17" x 13" x 8"H) is a chest very similar to the one still on the website which was sold some time ago.  This one was built soon after the other because I wanted to keep it, though I might reconsider.  Eiffel of course was famous not only for his tower and the structure that made the Statue of Liberty possible.  When I used to make films I dreamed in film, and nowadays in circuitry (and hopefully other things). 

If Eiffel dreamed....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Frog Scribe's Chronicle


A just-completed pyramidal sculpture.

 It was meant to have a vaguely ancient Egyptian or Mayan feel, but with no particular meaning other than conveying some sort of story or history through the circuitry glyphs. 

In the center front of the piece is a circuit from my “zoo” collection which I’ve always thought looked like a frog sitting at a table or desk.  Since no better title came to mind, the work was named for that circuit. 

The black circle near the top is a device I’ve used a few times over the years with other works.  Of course there are all kinds of possibilities for what could go inside the gold circle, including gold circuitry.  That might be appropriate for some designs, but for this piece I liked the empty blackness surrounded by the gold.


 THE FROG SCRIBE’S CHRONICLE  measures about 31” x 12” x 17”,  and will be a bit taller when I add the base which was intended.

It is meant to be viewed from the front, but I liked finishing the back of the piece with a completely different style of design even if it might not usually be seen.   


 A recently completed chest not yet on the website.   20" x 12" x 6".   It’s called MANDOLIN because the paired circuits on the top of the chest remind me of a stringed instrument.  These circuits were collected in the 1980's. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mud & Sticks

When I chose circuit boards as an unlikely material, it wasn’t because I had any particular attraction to technical things.  I had collected them because I was amazed at the beauty of their graphic patterns, but I’d also collected rock crystals, random splashes of aluminum from a foundry floor, curious pieces of driftwood and so on.  It was a period between documentary film projects, and I felt the compulsion to be creative.  I had no idea what I would do, nor what material I would use.  If there were interesting things that could be gathered from nature I might well have tried that, but the mud and sticks around here are boring.  There aren’t even any interesting rocks, and I would know because I’ve built some stone walls.  Besides, there were plenty of others creating interesting and often beautiful artworks from such materials, and I didn’t want to be doing what anyone else was doing.

So I started fooling around with the circuit boards that had been sitting for years in my basement, and in a few days I was hooked.  It was immediate that the material would have to be treated with some precision, whatever I would make from it.  Otherwise the sloppiness would divert attention from the graphic qualities of the circuitry, and the whole idea would be pointless.  I have no love of precision except when it’s necessary, but in this case it became central to the concept.  It’s why for instance, you can look at one of the chests and imagine having seen something like that in an art museum.  That does make it harder to do, but that’s the nature of the beast I chose.        


People are always asking how long it takes to make one of my pieces.  (I’m never sure whether it’s because they are dazzled by the complexity of the circuitry, or whether they are trying to figure out how much the work should cost).  It can take a few weeks or a couple of months of solid work depending on the piece, sometimes longer.  I seldom work on a piece in one stretch from concept to completion.  Often works are partially designed or partially finished and left for months or even years until I hit on a solution that will let me continue – when I can find the time.  There are many beautiful circuits that I avoid using for other purposes simply because I have in the back of my mind the exact purpose to which those pieces of circuitry should be put, even if that work has not yet crystallized.  However it works out, I never seem to produce more than a few chests per year, for instance, and some years none at all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Zoo

When I decided to use circuitry as my material it was obvious to me that I would have to gather as large and varied a collection as possible from dozens of factories, so I could have the flexibility to create whatever I wished.  The problem was that with thousands of pounds of circuit boards accumulating, I had to be able to easily find what was needed for each piece.  A single circuit board takes up very little space and will store on shelves like books, but like a book in a library, is impossible to find unless you know where to look. 

 If you go into a bookstore you find things arranged by topic.  I decided to arrange my circuits by aesthetic, which is the way I would use them, anyway.  It became my library of visual language.  If they had an oriental look to them, they were filed in Oriental; if the circuitry lines were serpentine they could be found in Serpentine.  Circuitry patterns that called to mind grass or flowers or trees would go in Garden.  The category Zoo is for circuits that suggest animals.  I’ve tested this on visitors, pulling out a circuit board and asking them what they see.  Often they get it right away, even though these circuits were never designed to be anything but electronic.  I have a baboon, a frog on a throne, a monkey, an elephant, a horse, a toucan, fish, Insects and so on.  A few other categories include Geometric, Candelabra, Mae West (big and curvy upstairs, slim in the waist), Formal, Mechanical, Bulbous, Maya and Chartres. These labels may not mean anything to someone else, but I almost always know where to look for something, and where to put it back.

Deciphering the Language

The design of the artworks came by instinct at first, but it became apparent that I was dealing with a visual language that seemed to have its own rules of grammar, sentence structure and form.  What was discovered by trial or instinct could prove to be one of these rules that would apply to other similar situations with the circuitry design.  How repetition or disrupted- repetition worked, or removing a visually distracting part of a circuit board.  How the eye caught the flow of lines in unexpected ways.  How density of the circuitry played into the overall flow.  How by choosing the right boldness or intricacy  of the circuitry, a piece could be made to visually work well seen at a distance and equally well but very differently when seen close.  Combining the circuitry in certain ways could provoke the feeling of eloquent prose, other ways of eccentric poetry.  It was the circuitry itself that taught me its language.

The Studio

My studio is just a football field from my back door, in a woodland clearing.  (It’s a rural area in the northern Catskill Mountains, and I have cows for neighbors).  I completely designed the studio, a builder did the basic structure to my plans, and I finished the rest.   The center of the interior is a large open space with a high arched ceiling and on both ends of the building are good-sized lofts for storage or displaying finished works.  Under the loft on one side is my workshop and all the machines, and under the loft on the other end are rows and rows of shelving for materials. On the wall of the open area opposite the main door are some tall windows, which look out on the woods.

People have occasionally asked if I get shell shock when I go into Manhattan from this quite rural place, but I lived in New York City for many years and feel quite comfortable there.  I know where all the parking places can be found, and where to not even think of looking for one.  And there are thousands of inexpensive restaurants with very good food of every kind because New Yorkers eat out most of the time.  Nothing like that in the countryside, but on the other hand I can laugh at a chickadee chasing a squirrel, or throw tomatoes at a bear who’s after the birdseed – which you don’t see very often on Fifth Avenue.  And in a little over two hours I can be on Fifth Avenue.