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State Of The Art

Joe Graft upcycles circuit boards into art

Published on July 8th 2011.

State Of The Art

MODERN, American artist Joe Dragt strives to find new ways of doing old things. In that sense, it’s not surprising that when the Arizona-based artist was asked to toss out 30 old computers at his full-time day job, his artistic mind saw an opportunity on the rise. Could computer components be used as a canvas?

During these troubled economic times especially, it’s a lot cheaper to use rejected materials than to buy a brand new traditional canvas. Who knew that being green could turn you into a popular, well-earning artist?

Alternative canvases are certainly not new to Dragt. The artist’s intriguing repertoire includes a wooden hand saw series and earlier this year Dragt played around with music-themed paintings on classic LPs. Every artist has their own ‘thing’ and in Dragt’s case, that ‘thing’ is painting contemporary pictures on alternative canvases.

He took one of the depreciated computers home and soon decided the circuit board would be the ideal canvas, as he felt the complexity and patterns of the circuitry could serve as an unusual, yet stunning background. In this case, the proverb ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is highly applicable.

Circuit Board Paintings By Joe Dragt-1

It’s creative upcycling at its best. Dragt recycles every part of the computer, to its tiniest screw. Whilst primarily doing the environment a favour, for Dragt, there are also big benefits of doing this. During these troubled economic times especially, it’s a lot cheaper to use rejected materials than to buy a brand new traditional canvas. Who knew that being green could turn you into a popular, well-earning artist?

Although Joe Dragt claims that his intentions are purely purse and environmental friendly, I think there is an ulterior motive to these eco-friendly paintings.

Let’s face it – Dragt’s paintings do not exactly express springtime with bunnies in the background. A monstrous worm, a skull, a dead dove and a ranging ram are just some examples of Dragt’s latest artworks. I think that these monstrous drawings might be subliminal messages to attack our 21st century culture, which is so utterly and completely dependent on electronics. Far-fetched? Controversial? Maybe.

The computer is the embodiment of the electronic culture and let’s be honest, it can even be seen as our electronic soul. Dragt dissects a computer and then uses its core element, the source of its existence, as a canvas. He then has the nerve to defile the motherboard even further by drawing on it.

In my opinion, this is a rebellion against the electronic dictatorship. The word ‘dictatorship’ might be going a bit far, but think about it. Nowadays, we are urged to consume more and more electronic devices, which are promoted as if they’ll make our life easier and better. We are completely dependent on electronics. Most likely your mind has shifted immediately to your mobile phone, your mp3 player and your computer. You’re now saying to yourself that if you had to, you could easily do without them. You are probably not realising that there is very little left in the world that is actually natural. Everything, from houses to hair products, is made by machinery. Except for African tribes and the Amish, there is not a single person in the world that would happily scrub their clothes on hands and knees in a river. And bear in mind, soap too is created by machinery...

Circuit Board Paintings By Joe Dragt

Joe Dragt’s artwork, hidden messages or not, a lash out to 21st century society or not, is cool and contemporary.

Originals are going fast. However, Joe Dragt's Circuit Board Series is an on-going project; please check the website for details   

Prices start at £80

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AnonymousJuly 22nd 2011.

I have to say I got a good chuckle reading this. There are no hidden messages in the art. It's green, and they make for cool backgrounds. If you check out the rest of my website, you'll see I typically have a darker side. The themes are just purly play on words of computer lingo, such as worm, blue tooth, ram, memory, keyboard shortcuts (such as my latest piece (ctrl x: frankenstein women bleed too). I do appreciate the digging deep into meaning. That is what I love most about any of my work, I like to see other people try to interpret my work and what I was or am thinking. thank you for the article,


Joe Dragt
"The Artist"

Mark Garner, The PublisherAugust 2nd 2011.

As Freud once said Joe, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar... lets have a pint one evening.

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