"No Man's Land," (2018) is part of my Dead Laptop Series and is an engraved non-functioning Mac laptop. The phrase No Man's Land originally referred to the highly disputed territory between two opposing forces during WWI that neither one could dominate. In this contemporary scenario, this refers to cyber-space, the abstraction of obtainable territory, and the fight for dominance. This has ramifications beyond the virtual world as the natural world becomes an exploitable resource with devastating effects of conflict rather than an inherently rich, natural world.
"Spotted,"(2008) specifically references the Spotted Owl controversy in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s, and how there has always been a tension between labor and the environment. This piece highlights the fact that if the environment is decimated by over-harvesting, both the forest and the labor are lost. This piece is a dark memorial to both aspects of the debate. If we are poor stewards of the environment, we all loose. (Pictured are 3 of 6 pairs of saws.)
Both of these pieces reference the historical antecedents as to how we got to our current state of over-exploitation. As British historian Lord Acton once wrote, "Every institution tends to perish because of an excess of its own basic principle."
Michael Dinges is a Chicago based artist. His work is inspired by the 19th century sailor's craft of scrimshaw and the WWI soldier's craft of trench art. Both of these historical practices represented human beings mediating on great cultural shifts in capitalism and modernity.