This article was originally published in Make: Volume 22.
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There’s a lot of beauty in a well-designed object and the parts that make it up. And the most solid designs are often found in items that you don’t spend time thinking about, because you don’t have to. They just work, effortlessly.
For her senior thesis at the Hartford Art School, then-25-year-old Brittny Badger explored some of these devices of convenience that are often taken for granted. Inspired by a photo she saw of toy car parts laid on a white background, she disassembled and rearranged the components of small electric kitchen appliances, taking photos to document her final arrangements.
For her first piece, the West Hartford, Connecticut artist gutted an electric handheld beater. Falling in love with the colorful, bendable wires and other shapes, colors, and textures of the innards, she went on a thrift store crawl, looking for more objects to take apart. The fact that the appliances were used only added visual interest. “They had much more character due to the nasty residue and stained plastic,” Badger muses.
In total, she opened, rearranged, and photographed a blender, electric knife, handheld vacuum, sandwich maker, can opener, beater, coffee maker, clothes iron, juicer, popcorn maker, toaster, and waffle iron.
Freed from their plastic shells, the hardworking, blue-collar appliance parts are given room to play together aesthetically, instead of working together mechanically. Components that are normally motionless seem to gain movement and personality, to interact with each other.
Tendrils of rainbow-colored wires ripple outward, while screws, bolts, wires, and small plastic doohickeys outline and punctuate the larger, more task-specific parts. The variety of textures, finishes, and forms concealed inside these simple devices is breathtaking. It’s visual, utilitarian poetry.
Badger also created a series called At the Top, a photo series of building tops and the surrounding sky. To see more of her work, visit flickr.com/photos/brittnybadger and her blog, brittnybadger.blogspot.com.