Life Wires by Matthew Obrebski
Opening Recepton: August 19th
August 19th – September 10th, 2016
Life Wires is a collection of pieces that exhibit the similarities between the human body and machines, both in form and function, and comments on the impact technology has had in the development of culture and society.
Wires are considered unsightly, annoying and inconvenient. They are like black vines that drape down tables, are tucked behind shelves and run along walls. When not in use they are coiled, tangled up in a knot, or wrapped around the object it’s connected to. They tether our electronics to the wall, as if held captive on a short leash, and even if our devices are wireless, giving us the freedom to take them wherever we go, we inevitably have to return to the outlet, and plug them back in to recharge.
From the perspective of the electronics, however, wires are like the veins that run through the body, transferring fuel to its organs; the motors and circuitry. The exterior wire plugs into an outlet acting like an umbilical cord, drawing nutrients to the device, keeping it alive. Wires also serve as a way to create bonds between devices. By inserting the male plug into the female outlet, a connection is made that allows the two to share memories in the form of images, sounds and documents. The same bond is possible in a larger scale. Devices connected through thousands of miles of cable suspended overhead, underground or at the bottom of the ocean, create a network that allows them to communicate with each other all around the world.
Through my work I want to show both sides of wires. From our perspective: an unsightly annoyance that we try to hide and keep organized. And from the perspective of the machines and electronics: how they act as a life line, a vein that feeds nutrients to the machine’s internal workings, keeping it alive. I also want to show how machines share features with the human body, both in form and in function. How they too have the ability to see, hear, and speak using their own language. I believe the human body is in itself a highly effective, self-sustaining machine of organic construction, with each organ fulfilling its own purposes; filtering, converting, producing, and regulating, to maintain each other and keep the body in working order. They are all linked together with a network of veins, arteries and nerves that carry fuel and information between each other, just like the circuitry and wires of a machine
Matthew Obrebski is a printmaker and sculptor living in Hamilton Ohio. He discovered printmaking in college, finding relief cut and intaglio etching an enjoyable balance of drawing and carving. Attending college he also developed his skills in woodworking and fabrication, learning joinery and welding. His works mainly focus on how technology has affected our daily lives and our society as a whole, explore how the internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, and draw similarities between the organic and synthetic by blending the human anatomy with mechanical design.
He has built interactive wooden machines with electronic components, celebrating inventors and their contributions that changed the world. When the viewer turns a crank, presses a button or steps on a pedal, the pieces make sounds, play music or advance slides on a projected slideshow. Lacking the skills to design circuitry and write code, Matthew buys old electronics and toys from second hand stores that exhibited a feature he wants. He then carefully disassembled and rewires the circuitry, adding new buttons and incorporates them into the pieces.
Matthew learned to solder from his father, an electrical technician. He occasionally goes to his father’s repair shop to help repair commercial microwaves. In the midst of repairing a microwave he had a realization: it was, in a vague way, like doing surgery on a body, but instead of replacing an organ like a heart or a kidney, it was components like a transformer or a capacitor. The parts were interchangeable; ad could be replaced when they failed. The comparison of the human body to a machine would bring new meaning to his previous works, and lead to new pieces dealing with the similarities of machines and the human body. To him, the human body is a kind of highly efficient, organic machine. With each organ fulfilling its own purpose; filtering, converting, producing, and regulating, to maintain each other and keep the body in working order. They were all linked together with a network of veins, arteries and nerves that carried fuel and information between each other, just like the circuitry and wires of a machine.