There’s a wonderful movement in the art world. Mosaics have been breaking out of their ceramic hold for a while, but now there’s a whole new branch to explore. There seems to be no better name for it than the Qwerty Mosaics which were brought to Tile Addict’s attention by none other than mosaic master Gary Drostle.
Multiple artists have taken advantage of the raft of used and trashed keyboards and up-cycled the key caps into masterful mosaics and portraits. This style has been around for a little while and individuals have found a whole range of ways to reuse the keys, from covering entire walls, to creating portraits, to forming abstract, multi-dimensional installations.
Some keep the caps in tact, with their shape, form, and lettering untouched, whilst others take a different approach, cutting them for accurate and strict detail. Some artists also branch out from the humble computer key to other lettered objects such as scrabble tiles. Monique Sarfity employs a large range of materials for her art pieces, including both broken glass, metal scrap, and soda cans, and her black and white Qwerty Mosaics are really special.
Kay Knight‘s artworks from 2014 utilised the tiles in a different way, separating the key caps from the board and photographing them, creating nostalgic mosaics digitally out of the pictures. The focus of these pieces was old school technology and the brown and yellow colour scheme really highlights the retro feel.
Doug Powell‘s Qwerty Mosaic portraits are collected by Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not!” and various museums in North America and Europe. He has been contracted to create large murals and has completed portraits of Steve Jobs, Einstein, Princess Leia, and recently Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Each mosaic uses thousands of key caps to form their image, although he has also been known to use materials such as jigsaw pieces instead.
Sarah Frost‘s Qwerty installation from 2010 titled “Qwerty 5” utilised thousands of used keys from businesses and individuals to cover entire sections at Saint James Hotel in New York. She has also created multiple large scale cast-off key mosaics.
The 3D relief of old keyboard keys has also inspired some intriguing structures and installations. Jean Shin produced an interactive sculpture in 2006 by embedding the old key caps into a large textile. The resulting piece, TEXTile, enables viewers to type messages on the functioning front three rows of keys, which then appear at the end of the sheet. Old computer keys were also used to create Hedonism(y) Trojaner by Babis Cloud, a 3D horse sculpture in varying shades of age and nicotine stain.
The range of shades, colours, textures and depths of key caps makes these art pieces completely unique, and each of the aged elements are skillfully transformed by the artists in their own style.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, June 2019.