Chicago artist Michael Dinges creates intricate carvings inspired by scrimshaw work that old-timey sailors once did on whalebone. But his materials are a little more millennial in feel: Dinges carves his designs onto discarded Apple laptops. In his first exhibition in New York City, at Tekserve, Dinges shows his “Dead Laptop Series.” The show will be on display until November 22.
Through the Art@Tekserve project, Tekserve hopes to give artists an alternative place to show their work; Dinges’ pieces, appropriately, ask if computers are practical tools or sculptures. As Keith Recker of Hand/Eye magazine said, “The marks he makes on these objects force us to reconsider what we used them for in the first place, and whether they’re now devoid of value.”
Along with The Dead Laptop Series, Dinges is displaying objects he rescued from landfills, such as coffeemakers and salt and pepper shakers.
Jan Albert of Tekserve discovered Dinges’s work in Chicago earlier this sumer. “He had a show up at the Chicago Cultural Center and I just wandered in and was blown away,” said Albert. “The Dead Laptops were on display and hanging from the ceiling was an 11-foot “Lifeboat” he had built from scratch, using vinyl siding from house that had been foreclosed on during the mortgage crisis. He did his scrimshaw all over that exterior.”
Albert told us when Tekserve offered to show Dinges’s pieces, he said, “what goes around comes around.” When Dinges first got the idea of doing scrimshaw on old laptops, he reached out to Tekserve for a donation. The company sent him seven discarded computers, enabling him to start his series. It’s all very Justin Timberlake.