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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shock Hazard Assemblage/ Let's Get VCR Event, Struts Gallery

Barbara Safran de Niverville, Shock Hazard 1 detail, Assemblage, approx. 36 x 22 in. 2014

Barbara Safran de Niverville, Shock Hazard 1 detail, Assemblage, approx. 36 x 22 in. 2014

Barbara Safran de Niverville, Shock Hazard 2, Assemblage, approx. 36 x 12 in. 2014
This past weekend I participated in the "Let's Get VCR: Electronics Recycling Project" at the Struts Gallery in Sackville, NB.  I assembled Shock Hazard 1 & 2  on site from parts of obsolete electronics donated by members of the community for repurposing as art works. This technology was the ultimate of "cool" when I was a teen.  At that time, I was envious of expensive stereo systems with all the bells and whistles that I couldn't afford. This weekend I was taking it apart as old junk!

Although all the electronics collected in the gallery will be taken to a recycling facility following the project, I intend to suggest what could happen if these components were left in an abandoned field. The exposed circuit board of an old stereo amplifier inspired me to use its colorful wiring and arrangement of components in contrast with dried thistle weeds.  The broken, tangled tape and the reversed cassette unit seemed to be necessary as break-down elements. The picture frame and plywood rectangle reference the way we tend to frame "nature" and locate it within our technology as a kind of "hybrid."  These two assemblage pieces go back to my research on entropy as well, in reference to machines breaking down and to organic cycles of decline and resurgence.

When I examined the circuit boards I had removed, I was reminded of Peter Halley's abstract paintings inspired by similar pieces.  I can understand his fascination with purely functional patterns that possess a certain technological aesthetic of their own. Along with capacitors, wiring and other pieces attached, each circuit board has its own sculptural forms.

View Peter Halley's work here

Hubbard Hall printed circuit board
I was also reminded of Tim Hawkinson's sculptures composed of electronic pieces and organic forms.  His sculptures often produce sound and feature moving pieces. I haven't progressed to that point yet, but adding sound to some my work is one of my goals for the coming year.

View Tim Hawkinson's work here

Both Halley and Hawkinson work with ideas about the relationship between humanity and what is commonly thought of as the "natural world."

I watched several how to videos on how to safely remove pieces from electronic equipment before jumping in.  Don't try this at home could be good advice! It can be dangerous, so be very careful if you decide to do this!  Some electronics store powerful jolts of electricity in their components as well as toxic chemicals. Perhaps I will buy new electronic pieces that are empty and inert for my next assemblage experiments.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cut Pieces - Bouquet of Thistles

Sincere thanks to Edna and George Kay of Kay's Custom Framing for lending me their time, equipment and space to work on expanding my Bouquet project.  I now have forty thistle-inspired pieces individually cut and ready for assembly and painting.  Today Edna patiently cut doweling into small segments for about eighteen low relief panels.  Some of the thistle pieces will be layered using sections of doweling. Others will act as brackets to hold the pieces to the wall. A third group will be single layer relief panels. I have plans to create new drawings that will showcase this new series of panels.

My latest mixed media drawing is underway, featuring a few butterflies visiting thistle blossoms. The White Cabbage Butterfly is considered as much of a pest as the common thistle, but it can be quite lovely flitting between the mauve tufts.  The caterpillars are the problem for gardeners and farmers. Once the butterflies hatch out, they busy themselves collecting nectar and laying their eggs on unsuspecting leaves. The White Cabbage Butterfly and the Creeping Thistle seem to be made for each other! They are active in my favourite, local abandoned lot. Come back in a few days to see a photo of this drawing in progress.