ROSEN'S ARTISTIC SIDE ... OR IS IT REALLY ART?


I confess that I have never had any inkling that I had a single artistic bone in my body.  Oh sure, I am able to copy just about anything and even enlarge it while keeping approximate proportions.  Sure wish I had a photo of the Halloween costume I made for my older daughter where I took a playing card (a Queen of Hearts I believe it was) and copied it to two sides of a sandwich board.  Poor Arie had to do her trick or treating looking like an advertisement for Bicycle Playing Cards.  Although, I was told that it was quite good, but that is just because people felt sorry for me for waiting until it was too late to get a real costume.  Sorry sweetheart.  I owe you one.  And yes, I do remember that 7th grade art project where I made a small model of a glitzy nightclub replete with a sparkly curtain made from some scrap of material with a lot of glued on glitter (well, from a distance it looked pretty good).  And in fourth grade I was the diarama champion with my dinosaur display in a shoebox with carefully placed holes covered with tissue paper to let in just the right amount of light (so you couldn't see all the dried glue all over the place).  And yes, there was the obligatory exploding volcano made from -- what else -- salt, flour and water.  Mine really did sort of explode since I used a bit too much vinegar and baking soda and it was a lava gusher (all over the teacher's desk as I recall).

This time I tried to outdo myself and do something on a slightly larger scale.  About a year ago I purchased a beautiful brass dream catcher which I hung above my couch.  It looked gorgeous and peaceful but it seemed dwarfed by the space to each side.  Technology to the rescue!  In my psychology department storage closets sat a veritable treasure trove of old technology, some dating back to the early '70s when I arrived at CSUDH.  One day I braved the dusty cabinets and loaded the back of my Hybrid Camry with boxes of what to some people might have seemed like junk. To me, it WAS junk, but it was the beginnings of an idea. Most of my friends thought it was a pretty dumb idea, but it was an idea and it was "art" or at least potential art.

I spent several months dismantling boxes that contained an array of wires, vacuum tubes, early circuit boards, resisters, keyboards, mice, floppy disks and other bits and pieces of indecipherable junk.  Below I have tried to capture the final compositions.  I ended up creating two wall hangings, each forty inches tall by 12 inches wide.  In a frenzy of activity, I spent the next few months selecting and gluing various techno-bits to these two boards.  I would like to say that there was a rhyme or a reason for my choices, but that would be a lie.  At times I felt as though I knew what I was doing, but mostly it was a matter of what fit where and what seemed like it might look good in certain spots.  The results are below.  Don't hold back.  Share your true feelings.  Email me at larrydoesntlivehereanymore@artgallery.com.
 

Here's how it looks now.  Clearly the juxtaposition of the old and the older is bold (well, maybe not bold but more like crazy).

This is the one I refer to as the "Clock Hanging."  It includes a working clock which is made from layers of four generations of storage media -- 8 inch floppy disk (too old to remember that one, huh?), 5.25" floppy (maybe even too old for that one), a 3.5" floppy, and a CD (ah, finally something you can recognize).  Except for the CD, each floppy is made of similar mylar plastic.  But the 8" one includes half of my 69 page doctoral dissertation (yes, only half).  The rest of the Clock Hanging you will see in bits and pieces below (no bits and bytes jokes please).

This is the "Cyborg Hanging" in honor of the Cyborg box which did something at some point but for the life of me I have no earthly clue.  This one is unique in that it features keyboard keys which seems to be spelling out messages.  For example, on the left side, below the Cyborg box, it says ESC HI TECH while at the right it says RETURN 2 OLD WAYS.  For fun, at the base, keys spell out BY LR 2007.  This hanging features quite a few older technologies that most of you won't recognize.
 

Here is the miracle clock.  It really does keep time although as we were mounting it on the wall, my son Chris asked me if I bought the cheapest clock mechanism that I could find (actually, it was the only one that I could find - thank you Michael's).  The base is made from a quartet of storage vehicles, the hour numbers are keyboard keys and it is all surrounded by various resisters, capacitors and other what-nots linking it to two vacuum tubes at the lower left.

This is the bottom of the Cyborg Hanging which includes an array of vacuum tubes, an old meter of some sort and keyboard keys arranged artistically (!).  The large object in the middle is actually the circuit board underneath the keys on a keyboard.

This is the lower half of the Clock Hanging.  Lots of miscellaneous junk including yards of wires and circuit boards featuring dozens rather than millions of transistors.  How quaint.

Here are the vacuum tubes up close and personal.  These are the same tubes that used to be in your grandparents' television (or great grandparents if you are a Gen Xer or Net Gener).  I remember that when you turned off the television the picture would slowly shrink into a dot in the center and if you quickly looked around the back of the set you could still see the dim remnants of the vacuum tube as it slowly cooled off.  I remember how much fun it was to take a blown tube to the Kester Avenue Drugstore, plug it into the appropriate slot in the kiosk to verify that it was, indeed, dead, and then finding the replacement tube in an array of boxes of similar looking tubes stacked below the tester.  Back home  the prongs fit nicely into the appropriate slot and the TV worked again.  Ah, if it was only so easy to replace a non-working part of your television today.

This is the side of the Clock Hanging which, if you look very closely -- and squint a bit to bring it into focus -- features a string of very old, 1970s components strung together in a seemingly (OK, more than seemingly) random pattern.  That part took quite some time as each had to be wired separately and then combined to run the clock (yeh, right ...).  Well, it did take quite some time but that was only because I kept dropping the pieces and sticking the prongs into my fingers.  But if you get to see them you will have to admit that the effort was not worth the product.

This is the top of the Cyborg Hanging featuring a vast array of junk.  The orange circuit board in the center is circa 1975 and has so few transistors that they are countable on two hands and one foot.  Note the circuit board on the bottom right on which you can actually see the wires etched into the circuit board.  Try doing that now!

This is a view of the middle of the Clock Hanging, complete with mouse.  Note that the mouse has neither a left nor a right button.  It actually has a single button since it is a Mac mouse and the Mac had no need for multiple button options as all you needed to do could be done with one. Take that Microsoft! [God I hope Bill doesn't come after me.  Unlikely, given Apple's small market share but watch out for the iPhone.  Apple is just one more "i" away from sweeping the gadget market.]

In case you couldn't read the writing on the Cyborg Hanging, here is the clever use of keyboard keys on its left side spelling out ESC "H" "I" TECH.  OK, it is a bit hokey but I had these keyboards, you see, and I knew that I wanted to use the keys for something and this was the best I could come up with.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my artistic side.  My family is a bit split on this between those who think I am crazy and those who know I am crazy.  Sigh ... true artists are never really recognized until after their deaths so I have some hope for immortality if some future society gets a peek at what I have created.  Yeh, right.  My next project, which is nearly complete, involves the use of 45 rpm records, 33 1/3 albums and old rock posters to turn my room into a shrine to the history of rock-and-roll music.  You may think that I am kidding but finally my old 45s and 33s will get some use.  On one wall I have all the artists who made it big in the 1950s and 60s including Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, and Brenda Lee while on the other wall I have 45s by the artists whose styles and songs they ripped off including Fats Domino, The Platters, The Temptations, and The Drifters.  Somewhere in there I plan to include a bit of the British invasion to complement the Beatles posters and art that I already have hanging there.  It is all a throwback to the 1970s when I taught a course called "The Social History of Rock and Roll Music."  Isn't it amazing what you can teach if you just throw in the word "social"?  Stay tuned for pictures of that artistic endeavor.  I just hope that my rock-and-roll wall rivals my technological wall hangings in its artistic creativity.

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