Pulsing with the silver and gold veins of a powerful, artificial intelligence, Theo Kamecke’s works look like they belong on the set of an Egyptian-themed sci-fi film. And perhaps they do: the former filmmaker-turned-sculptor painstakingly crafts his unique pieces from oversized vintage circuit boards dating back from the sixties, giving new life to what he calls the “graphics of circuitry.”
With names like “Nefertiti”, “Isis” and “Nazca”, Kamecke’s functional works all have an regally imposing presence that seem to occupy a mysterious niche between mythology and technology.
To achieve this, Kamecke deliberately uses circuit boards from the sixties and seventies, due to the fact that workers back then painted traces by marking out widths by tape, sometimes unevenly, resulting in a handmade feel and look that is perceptible to the human eye.
“In the 1960s, they designed large circuit boards that would end up being 6 inches by 6 inches in size,” explains Kamecke.”They would do it on a big board and use chart tape for someone to lay out the circuit.
“I went to dozens of circuit-board manufacturers and asked them to give me their overruns,” he says.
“Late 9th century.”
According to his website, after years of collecting circuit boards and not knowing what to do with them, one day something clicked:
He saw in the graphic patterns of electronic circuitry with their endless variety the same beauty we perceive in seashells, in crystals, in the grain of wood or even in the tree itself. All these are, after all, forms derived from function, so if we find beauty in them it is not because they were designed to please the eye. He saw that the aesthetic qualities of the circuitry graphics could, like hieroglyphs, be resolved into an inscrutable language or like colors, into a palette of mood.
Using the time-tested method of maquetry, where pieces of veneer are laminated together on a flat surface in arresting visual patterns, Kamecke glues his patterns onto hardwood, which gives the impression of metal over black polished stone.
With his works exhibited in galleries and collected by the likes of H.R. Giger and James Cameron, Kamecke himself admits that his meticulous process is not easy and that it’s about transcending any geek-fascination with technology.
“I am down there on the lower rungs when it comes to technology,” he says. “I understand how computers work and did that 30 years ago even before most people. But this is not about computers.”