SURFACING SILICON Revealing the Underlying Material and Structure of Digital Electronics through Aesthetics

Levy, T.J. "SURFACING SILICON Revealing the Underlying Material and Structure of Digital Electronics through Aesthetics"


Digital electronics are everywhere. We spend most of our days surrounded by them, but what most of us ever experience is their surface. The purpose of this work is to open up the black box of everyday digital electronics as a way to show what is hidden inside. This is done, not as a way to teach people how they work, but to reveal what has become the underlying fabric of our world so they can be seen and appreciated.

The shape of digital electronic technology over the past 50 years is characterized by the demands of efficiency and productivity. Transistors within silicone chips are smaller and more densely packed today than ever before. These advances have not been met with corollary modes of representation. We are faced with a technological landscape that exists outside of the realm of human perception. Transistors are too small to see, and even if they were visible, they are sealed inside protective cases.

The work presented here takes on digital electronics as a subject and medium for artistic expression. The goal is to use aesthetics as a way to show and call attention to what is otherwise not meant to be seen. The contributions are an in depth conceptual and material exploration that address the use of an opaque technology, one that is normally outside our realm of experience, as means of creative expression.

In the same way that uncovering the underlying fabric of our natural world reveals the hidden truths of nature, accessing the material of our fabricated world brings us closer to underlying truths of humanity. The effect reveals a certain beauty that would otherwise be lost to the highly efficient rational world.

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