27 March 2011

New Work, New Series: So Long, Light Bulb. I’ll miss you.


My latest piece “Artifact: Light bulb” (finished size 8x10) was inspired by the news that the incandescent light bulb will be phased out of US markets. First one to go is the 100 Watt bulb, gone by the end of this year. For a long time this thing has been the symbol of ideas and invention. So what will replace this icon… a squiggly corkscrew florescent? Sigh.

I agree that the incandescent bulb is inefficient and wasteful and makes no sense to keep since there are much more efficient bulbs out there. But I’ll miss them. I’ll miss the warm light of incandescent bulbs probably the way people missed oil lamps when electric lights became the norm.

The idea of seeing this technology become outdated made me think of all the things I’ve grown up with, not to mention owned and used myself, that are already a thing of the past. Some of the technology I was so impressed with as a kid leaves my own kids bewildered.
Contemplating the revolutionary Commodore 64 home computer –64 KB of memory? HUH? As in kilobytes? You can get an iPod with 64 GIGA-bytes. So that’s what, a million billion times more powerful than this so-called computer?
Atari joysticks - Why did they only have ONE button? How did you jump and shoot at the same time?
I'm thinking, what Jump and shoot... We were playing Pac Man! You go around a maze and eat dots.
Unbelievable, and yet we still survived and enjoyed life.

Vinyl records, typewriters, cassette tapes, film cameras… Sure, people still use them sometimes.  Like they use a wood fire to cook or a horse and buggy to ride around for fun.  You can choose to go “retro” and do silver print photography.  But no one depends on these things anymore.

So I’ve decided to document some of the “oldies but goodies” of my own archaic technological past.  Some people will recognize what they are right away.  Other things like the rotary phone might take some explaining.  As my youngest asked me, “what’s the round thing for?” (the dial) and “what’s this big part?”  (the phone’s body, attached with wire to the earpiece).  Of course, every phone he’s ever seen or used basically looks like an earpiece alone.  Why would anyone make a phone so heavy? 

I do miss the ability to slam a nice big, indestructible phone down on the handle and hang up in a huff.  Pressing “END” just doesn’t give me the same satisfaction.  Especially when I’m stuck on hold for an hour, usually with tech services, trying to figure out why my computer thinks my iPad is a digital camera…  



  1. I love the idea of this series... but I think that the light bulb will live on, if only in cartoons over the head of some character with a great idea...

  2. Very nice light bulb! And agree about missing being able to slam a phone down- slam down a whole cell phone now is just not a good idea!

  3. Love your light bulb - such beautiful stitching, and the metal base looks so realistic. I cannot stand those fluorescent bulbs which they put in hotel rooms- the light is so cold. I'm going out to buy up a stockpile of incandescent bulbs right now. Thank you for the inspiration and for your beautiful work.

  4. Thanks everyone! I understand about the florescent - and they take so long to brighten up! But hopefully when everyone is using them, they'll improve. Vivika's right - the light bulb will stick around the way anvils show up in cartoons just to fall on things. What ARE those things for? LOL


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