Home > Artist of the Week, Recycled, Uncategorized > Artist of the Week: Michael Dinges

Artist of the Week: Michael Dinges

October 10, 2011

Nothing in art ever dies out entirely.  Styles and modes of working will revive or have descendants.  I was looking at these works for a while before I realized the perfect lines and crisp text were incised, that I was seeing contemporary scrimshaw.

The use of scrimshaw and recycled items is very intentional by the artist.  He has various items in white plastics, including many works from his Dead Laptops series.  The informational flier at the Chicago Cultural Center indicated the purpose of the works was:

“…to trace the timeline of our consumerist tendencies and attendant environmental destruction back to the original global workers -whalers.  Working at the dawn of the industrial revolution to meet an ever-increasing demand for fuel in the form of whale oil, they destroyed the very source of their livelihood, hunting whales nearly to extinction and altering the ocean ecosystem.  The scrimshaw art they made on their journeys using whale bones- the waste product of the whaling industry- often included poetry, and transformed refuse into beautiful, even valuable objects that outlived their makers.”

There was also an indication that the artist works with a Dremel tool to incise the various plastics he used.  The designs with their subtle criticisms of society, the appropriation of the tropes of antique illustrations, and the elevation of discarded items to art were all wickedly delightful.  See more of Michael Dinges’ work at his portfolio website here.

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