Tucked away in the Catskill Mountains lies Theo Kamecke’s studio, home to an impressively well-stocked library of vintage circuit boards. Kamecke doesn’t organize the boards by function or manufacturer, but with words like “serpentine” and “geometric” that convey their look and feel.
Decades ago, when miniaturization began to shrink the beautiful patterns to near invisibility, Kamecke realized these “fossils” of the electronic era would one day disappear. “I went to dozens and dozens of factories within hundreds of miles of [Manhattan] and talked them out of their obsolete or surplus boards,” he explains. “They were very happy that someone was doing something creative with it.”
To create contrast with the silvery lines of the circuitry, Kamecke dyes the boards so that the substrate appears like black stone. He lays them out in a design he likes, and then constructs hardwood frames onto which he overlays the dyed circuit boards. He makes the translucent pieces from acrylic sheets, illuminating them from within.
Kamecke upcycles scavenged boards — he does not make his own, because it goes “against the whole idea to be designing my own,” he explains. “It would be like designing a leaf.” Working within parameters like that can actually be very liberating for the creative process; “Limitations are very valuable,” says Kamecke.