For the months of July & August I helped put together “The Big Build – THE ART OF THEO KAMECKE” one of my favorite (living) artists…

Theo Kamecke was for many years a film maker of award-winning documentaries whose subjects ranged from astronauts to coal miners, rodeo cowboys to nuclear scientists. He was in mission control during the first moonwalk and has been attacked by wasps in the heart of the Amazon. In the course of making films he often encountered physical objects and materials which fascinated him and usually managed to bring some back from his travels, with no particular purpose in mind. While perusing some stacks of electronic circuit boards one day, that changed, and the purpose was found.

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He saw in the graphic patterns of electronic circuitry with their endless variety the same beauty we perceive in seashells, in crystals, in the grain of wood or even in the tree itself. All these are, after all, forms derived from function, so if we find beauty in them it is not because they were designed to please the eye. He saw that the aesthetic qualities of the circuitry graphics could, like hieroglyphs, be resolved into an inscrutable language or like colors, into a palette of mood.

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And so in this spirit-treating a “manmade” electronic circuit as simply a newly evolved form of nature, Kamecke began creating sculpture surfaced with the graphics of circuitry, and he uses the traditional techniques of marquetry which in another century might have been employed with fine veneers. Though the material itself is the essence of hi-tech, the created works deliberately make no reference to that, hinting instead at ancient or familiar human cultures and at the feelings which separate us from the machine.

The sculptures of this series have been created from actual electronic circuitry (metal laminated to permanently dyed epoxy-fiberglass) applied in traditional marquetry technique to hardwood forms, with exquisite craftsmanship. They have the appearance of metal over polished black stone.

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A note from the artist:

“From the mid-60’s thru 80’s I was involved with making documentary films, and often saw fascinating materials. In the late 60’s or early 70’s I collected a bunch of circuit boards (from manufacturers), having no idea at the time of using them as art material. I just thought they were beautiful. It wasn’t until 20 years later when I was getting bored with documentaries, that I fooled around with them as an art material. From then until the late 90’s I collected a few tons more (from more than a dozen manufacturers) as I was now using them in my sculpture, and I could tell from changing manufacturing techniques that what I could obtain was becoming less and less appealing and useful for my purposes. So I stopped collecting them, relying on my large inventory of beautiful “vintage” boards. The sculpture was really a way of revealing the beauty inherent in these functional objects that were never made to be seen.”

Online virtual gallery here & Flickr photo set.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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