What is they key to finding success and meaning as an artist? To Australian artist workbyknight (WBK), it is to “contribute to history…make work that references the age in which the artist lives. An artist should hold a mirror up to the world around him or her and comment upon reflection.” Seeing a world filled with buttons and other relics of technology, WBK utilizes computer keys as the backdrop for pixelated portraits of cultural icons. Similar to Babis Panagiotidis’ “Hedonism(y) Trojaner,” WBK’s use of computer keys takes a ubiquitous tool of modern communication and reclaims them as a medium for artistic expression.
WBK’s work represents the transition from the analog to the digital era during the 20th century. As touchscreens become more common, the tactile sensation of pushing keys that many of us have grown accustomed to may soon become a thing of the past. WBK salvages these mass-produced, impersonal tiles and gives them a soul by using them to create specific identities. Each key becomes the backdrop for a series of portraits, taking what was once a tool of technology and turning it into a medium for artistic representation.
The need to reclaim and redefine the outdated has a personal motive for the artist. “For I too one day will become discarded and irrelevant, just as my once treasured Sony Walkman was reverentially discarded,” writes WBK. By finding another use for the soon-to-be obsolete computer key, the artist hopes to in some way save the technology from death and cementing its place in history as something beautiful and relevant. “If you can capture true beauty it will live forever, because true beauty is hard to destroy. And Beauty can come in many forms.”
To see more of WBK’s work, check out their deviantART site for more portraits and musings on the importance of beauty and the role of the artist in society.