Sustainability: the capacity to endure. Isn't that what we all strive for in life? Questions come to my mind when I am using recycled computers as to whether I am making an actual difference. Art is something that is not measurable quantitatively. Computer refurbishing companies could use computer donations in more practical ways. On the other hand, I realized that there is an over abundance of discarded electronic materials in our society today. So much that we can not keep up. The technological waste is increasing at an extremely rapid pace. For me as an Artist finding time for all the ideas and messages that I want to convey visually is an extreme challenge. Everyday I come across so many items to use, so much that it can become overwhelming. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out where to begin, but I move ahead in the exploration. I hit creative road blocks occasionally, and try to determine where to use all of the parts scavenged such as, reed switches, gadgets, keypads and memory sticks. The large computer batteries I don't use. I experience feelings of self empowerment from the transformational capabilities in this process. One of the reasons why I work with these recycled items. The imagination can hold many therapeutic qualities. Take the broken down discarded and rejected feelings from life situations and restructure the items into a new work of art as you would your life. Various discarded items may hold more meaning and connection. Scavenging seems uncomfortable for some but found unused lunch containers might be a great storage item for paints and brushes for others. Purchasing a new item is not always necessary. Think of alternatives.
After my first Ikea store bought desk that I had to assembly myself I would never have made the connection to my studio work. Lack of funds for large canvas material has turned me into a resourceful artist. Memories of distaste for assembling the Ikea items left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I also realized that sometimes the furniture is so affordable because of the lack of longevity. An aspect I have grown to appreciate when I found discarded Ikea coffee tables that had easy off legs. A perfect size and shape for a new canvas with a little gesso. The old turning into the new is a theme that is becoming more common along with sustainability. The photo above of my creation titles, Cyber Soul, was created on a stamped Ikea product found rejected by it's home owner. I added some gesso and sanded it down, and added a hand made plaster relief torso with a hole inside the chest. The computer components and small electronic light can be seen through the hole if you look closely. Allowing the viewers to come up with their own connection to the work and it's meaning is something that I encourage. What is your relationship with technology?
In our society we often think of ways we live more of a sustainable life style in order to make better opportunities for the future. Not everyone can turn a blind eye to the environment any more. There is more green powered energy available. People are riding more bikes and taking public transportation in order to make a tiny difference in the world. Long term thinking for the environment and human relations within it are a high concern. Rick Mercers illustrated his One Million Acts of Green project and encouraged it with his partnership with CBC. They didn't start this campaign but it did make a difference in the everyday thought process of Canadians and North Americans. Artists are not exempt from this thinking. I am constantly sorting through recycled items with the hopes that I can find this unusable material new meaning. Fortunately, living and working in an old warehouse building provides some space to keep materials. Space is a real issue for most people living in urban dwellings especially closer to the downtown core of the city. My collection of recycled items adds another step in my art process. I begin with an inventory management system to determine what is available and what is needed. Clutter of items can lead to overwhelming amount of possibilities. Creating enough space for the materials selected with each art work is beneficial.
A donation of unusable computers from a huge insurance company and a Toronto mortgage broker was given to me early last year. The donated computers were stacked into my home and in need of a lot of time and attention. I was fortunate to have a fair amount of space in my live work studio, but I had to keep in mind I live there too. My "cyber" painting collage work series demanded the time and effort to take each computer apart manually. A process not easy on the hands. The smaller the pieces the better to manipulate. Meanwhile, any ideas and messages enter my imagination while I set to deconstruct the man made electronic information boxes. The pros and cons of technological occur to me everyday. I also think it would be nice to have a robot to do this dis-assembly work when it's a manual challenge. I realize there are disconnections sometimes with impersonal messages we send and receive. However, there are also discussion forums and internet social media networks that can keep us constantly connected globally. We no longer need to rely on television media and print production for our biased information and global news as we once did.
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