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Tuesday June 21, 2011

Students disassemble electronic items in recycling campaign

A SCORPION made entirely from camcorder casings. A moth with wings formed from camera motherboards. A tarantula with viewfinders for eyes. The Transformation exhibition in Aswara is a marriage of the recycling concept with the study of subject matter.

The 20 students from the art faculty took 15 weeks to put their screwdrivers to work. They disassembled 3,000 pieces of cameras, camcorders, Walkmans and audio visual electronic equipment and had them reassembled into the shape of bugs.

Donated by Sony, the gadgets had been part of a trade-in project initiated by the company last year in an old-for-new campaign.

Sony marketing and communications manager Ooi Mei Ying, 26, said the choice to support the field of Fine Arts and Sculpture was a natural one as it was better than throwing the old items away. Further art projects of a similar nature with the faculty are afoot using old trade-in items that are no longer functional.

Fly away: Chua Shu Ruei’s moth with wings made out of motherboards

The transformation exercise sees a joint collaboration between artist and lecturer, Suzlee Ibrahim, 44, of Aswara and fellow lecturer, Azwan Karim, 33, from Baitulmal Skills Institute.

“This was a chance for us to really pick the students’ brains. The old style of sculpture had always been about using scrap metal and pieces of plywood and cutting them according to the artist’s requirements. That’s easy stuff. This time it’s the other way round. The artist will have to adapt to the shape. This is the era of new-age art.”

There is also the challenge of instant recognisability. One must be able to tell what kind of parts are being used to form a frog for instance, or that a fly’s eye is actually a camcorder microphone.

The task has not been an easy one for sure.

Chua Shu Ruei, 22, a second year student, who has one of the strongest pieces in the exhibition, reveals that she had to do 50 drawings of moths on A4 size paper in order to gain a thorough understanding of her subject.

“I found the project daunting at first. Then I learned not to look at it as big problem but to break it down into parts. That helped me to analyse the subject. This exercise certainly quashes the perception of art as wishy washy.”

Man vs machine: Electronic parts collage of a man carrying a suitcase.

The purpose of this exercise is to train future designers to look into the issue of compatibility, said Suzlee.

“Design should not just fulfil aesthetic purposes but meet requirements of need and blend in with the environment. In tasking the students to find a suitable part to make up the shape of their subject matter, is to make them take a long hard look at detail and how it coincides with their surroundings.”

The project has not come without lingering effects.

“Whenever I see an electronic device, the first thing I think of is my screwdriver,” Chua quipped.

The Transformation exhibition is on until July 1 at the Aswara Gallery in Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan, 464 Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603-2607 1777. Website: www.aswara.edu.my

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