DT&G Gallery visits a unique high school student

There's nothing better than to see young people applying vision to a given situation. And, we always like to hear innovative ways of recycling obsolete or discarded computers and computer parts. When you combine the two it makes for a great story.

Jon O'Bryan is a high school senior in Calvert City, Kentucky, whos creativity and vision puts a whole new spin on his father's career in computers. Rrealizing an abundance of unused and obsolete computer parts, Jon applies his vision to turning cast-off computer parts into...

Jon O'Bryan

Let's hear in Jon's own words

REXSome kids bring home stray puppies. Instead, my brother brought home old floppies -- those fast-becoming-obsolete computer drives -- from his job site about a year ago. So, since MTV's Road Rules was in reruns, we decided to take these little machines apart and try to decipher how they worked. When I saw the resulting pile of parts, I didn't see just junk, but possibilities-the potential for art.

Computer-generated art has been around for a while and has become especially familiar in the past decade. I've been intrigued by the concept from the first time I saw Toy Story. Since then, I've even tried to emulate skilled computer artists using programs such as Maya and 3D Studio Max, both of which I found far surpass my somewhat considerable computer prowess. Consequently, my views and methods of creating computer art changed. Those beckoning heaps of hard-drive innards cried out to my creative sensibilities rather than my science-geek veneer. It wouldn't require software know-how, I told myself, to transform these cast-off components into "sculptural statements," as I call them.

Thoughts ricocheted around inside my imagination until I finally settled on the form of my first creation: a fly. I initially tried to solder pieces together, but the metal didn't cooperate. After seeing my sorry soldering, my grandfather suggested another method of fusing metal-welding glue. Thus, armed with half a tube of welder's glue, several pounds of computer junk, and a spate of spare time...

The Computer Bug is Born

computer bug Working sporadically over three weeks, sometimes like a Boris Karloff on steroids, I massaged this long-dead hardware until my first creation was alive and well. But before I could set it in a place of honor beside my monitor, it had to have a name. Remembering all of the problems I've had with my computer, I ceremoniously dubbed my former "fly" the now highly prestigious, if not menacing, Computer Bug. From the birth of the Bug-and with the help of my new glue-the rest of the pieces, one might say, fell into place. Local technicians gladly forked over moldy motherboards, mangled monitors, pathetic power supplies, and rickety RAM chips.

Next comes the Duck

It's inspiration came from the reading head of a hard drive. My own computer's obsolete RAM worked for wings and a floppy frame became its body. Duck put me into full flight, so to speak, and led to Crash!, (below, left) a tribute to many late-night computer users' faces upon encountering screen freeze. Then came Reclamerus Rex, (top, right) which not only celebrates a visual pun for "extinct" hardware but also serves as my realization of a corporate mascot for the Pennsylvania computer recycling firm, Reclamere ("Is your computer extinct? Feed it to Reclamerus Rex at Reclamere." I know; sculptors shouldn't try marketing.) Currently, I'm working on a chess set. "Circuit relay to King's L-bracket3."

crashWhile it's a stretch to say that my work has vast practical purpose, it does serve as a reminder that we should pause to ponder the consequences of our throwaway society and consider the recycling potential of refuse, waste, and obsolescence.

I don't wrestle with 3D Max's intricate animation frames or Maya's beautifully backlit textures anymore. My favorite fantasies these days merely come from old capacitors, circuit boards, and a dab of welder's glue. But I'd never turn away a puppy.

Bravo, Jon

A big round of applause goes out to Jon O'Bryan for his excellent story. We also salute Jon for his wonderful use of cast off computer parts which would eventually end up occupying precious space in the landfill. We're really looking forward to seeing that chess board set when you're finished with it, Jon!

Jon embarks on his college career in the fall with a major in physics. All of his work thus far has been as a hobby, which we hope he continues. We're also confident he'll do well whether there's an art career or physics career -- or both -- in his future!

And that's our gallery visit for February.

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