Circuit Board Skeletons

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Peter McFarlane

Peter McFarlane

I was really struck by Canadian artist Peter McFarlane‘s circuit board skeletons, and his views on transforming electronic waste. The series includes skeletons, sculptures, and paintings.

From his site:

My circuit board paintings arose from working as a computer sales consultant back in the early 1990’s. I was appalled at the computer’s speed of redundancy and was determined to extend its life. My son was born around that time and after I would come home from work and put him to bed, I would head to the studio and start to work. I painted the night scape because that was the landscape I saw. Working late in my studio I could always place myself as one of the “ignited” lights in the painting. After much trial and error, I discovered that by painting the circuit board, and re-igniting the circuits, I could create a landscape that appealed to the subjective and objective view. Over time, I created traffic and lightning and other features that played with the metaphors associated with circuit boards and power. The work was more in the realm of the aesthetic, but I found the idea of making landscape beauty out of landfill components appealing. The circuit board, to me, is the perfect contemporary “canvas” or “platform”. It is such an integral part of the global village and contained in so many of our consumer goods that we rely upon to stay “connected” or “consumed”.

The used object is just the foothold for my interrogation of understanding. It is not so much about re-cycling as it is about a poetic re-contextualizing of object and idea. It is similar geography and architecture to urban topography as well as the connection to the circuitry of the mind enhance its intrinsic metaphoric value.

The circuit board sculptures were a logical outgrowth of the more two-dimensional landscapes, using nature as a model and creating delicate objects out of these obsolete, but formerly cutting-edge technologies.

Here are some more examples from the series. Check out the gallery on his site for more.

[via Colossal]

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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