Bernie Rohde became obsolete as a TV repairman almost 30 years ago, having only gone to school for analog appliance repair. To catch up to a growing tech world, he decided to teach himself how to build digital circuits.
He liked to play around with components, so he built exploded views of what was going on inside computer chips. He used discrete transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors, and LEDs to build his circuits. Rohde didn’t have a plan for what he was going to make with all these pieces, but eventually he realized, intuitively, that they could become clocks.
He makes acrylic faces, copper body parts, printed circuit boards, and wiring, all by hand. It’s a perfect fusion of analog and digital technologies — a clock that displays hands to tell time, yet with guts that are completely digital.
There is a futuristic, extra-terrestrial feeling in his work. To see one of these glowing spheres floating in a dark room is like peering through a portal to another world, or like viewing something underneath a microscope.
The theme of using tech to make art runs through Rohde’s work. “Engineers decide what they want to make,” he says. “Art is about letting it happen. I wait to see what needs to be done — I let the circuit show me.”