Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Absolutely Brilliant

I'm not a big Facebook person. I never would have joined if not for my brother and I've never been a significant participant, though I check it occasionally. But then I found this Christy Oates video through a Furniture Society link and now I have finally come to realize that Mark Zuckerberg has created something with more cultural importance than being able to sporadically see nephew and niece pictures/videos.

E-waste Marquetry Project from christy oates on Vimeo.

I look at a lot of art and though I often see things I like, what I find really special about looking is finding that rare piece that is so spectacular that it totally captivates my attention. This is one such piece. A perfect combination of traditional craft with modern technology; fine art and craft; human vision and computer precision; found objects with meticulous planning; and, most interestingly, it brings together conceptual art with aesthetic art. Like Rich Tannen's Tray in Maple that I saw last year at a Furniture Society show, it could not be made without computers but it still retains an elegance that can only be created with intense human design and oversight.

I think it should also be seen as a multimedia piece. The video is as much a work of art as the final product. Had she simply written a paragraph explaining the process it would not be as fascinating. The video does so much more than explain, it gives the work context.

Being completely captivated, I email Christy to get some details. So that she isn't inundated with the same questions, here is what I learned:

-- The video compresses only 40 minutes of the assembly but putting it together actually took 35 hours; she spent another 40 hours setting up the files for laser cutting and the entire process took about 120 hours over three months.

-- There are 145 pieces in each section, the first section was mirrored, then the pair of sections rotated 9 times create a total of 18 pie-shaped sections. There is a total of 2610 shapes in the entire piece. The smallest shape is 1/16” square.

-- This is a non-functional piece of fine art (looking at her other videos, it is a question that you have to ask

-- It is finished with Watco's danish oil.

-- She used epoxy glue and pressed the veneered pattern, a thick paper surround, and a backer to a panel of mdf using a vacuum bag. The white border you see in the picture is a picture-framing matboard which is also laser-cut to fit the perimeter of the piece. It just lays on top of the substrate and hides the paper surround. She will be making a frame for it to hang on the wall.

As more background, Christy recently attended Wendy Maruyama's prestigious studio furniture MFA program at San Diego State University and has already garnered a number of prestigious awards. Most prominently, she has been included in the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery 40 under 40 exhibit (July 20, 2012 to February 3, 2013). Although she just finished the piece last week, it is already spoken for. After seeing the video, the Renwick Gallery curator decided to switch one of her furniture pieces out so that they can display this piece. Hopefully, they will also find a way to display it with the video. I look forward to seeing it in person and posting more images.

Absolutely Brilliant!


  1. Wow. thank you for posting this. Very inspiring to my sensibilities. One of the better visual constructive concepts I've seen in a long time.

  2. Amazing and wonderful. I agree that the video is also an artwork in itself. Did she do the music/rap too?

  3. The music was by Daft Punk, a French electronic duo; the song "Technologic" was a 2005 release that achieved success in Britain but was also featured in a 2005 iPod ad, a Brazilian Motorola commercial, an episode of The OC and a 2009 Lincoln MKS commercial as well as some Alpha Romeo ads. It has also been used on some video games and a TV dance show. Thanks Wikipedia!