Franco Recchia has taken the internet by storm with his unique works of art, which incorporate parts of old computers. In this way he gives these objects, which other people see as trash, a new life through art. He says that he has always enjoyed seeing what is inside the things that we often take for granted as whole objects, and so this part of his art was a kind of natural progression.
To achieve his unusual effects, he makes good use of his technical training – including the four different kinds of welding he knows how to perform. We were delighted to be able to interview Franco, so if you’re curious to find out more about his work and what his wife thinks about his magpie habits, read on!
What was the original impulse behind your idea to use pieces from broken technology to create a work of art?
Franco: I always have been fascinated by objects of common use because they were, originally, made by a person who put creativity, intelligence, and passion into designing or making them, from a screw to a complex technological system. In every single piece I come across in life there lies behind it the personality of the person who thought about it and built it.
Where do you get the components you use? Do you harvest them from dead devices or buy them separately? What is your favorite source of material?
Franco: I prefer to find the pieces that I put in my artwork in places like trash heaps, where others throw away what they think is not useful anymore; though many pieces have been given to me as gifts. I almost never buy the objects that I use in my creations. The things that I do buy I keep as part of my private collection – they’re not for use in my work.
What did your family think when you started collecting old electronics?
Franco: My mother taught me to keep things, for example when I was little she started to sew a suit for me but she was such a perfectionist that it was never finished and is not finished yet, she keeps it as a precious object. With my wife it has been the same – she is a ” keeper” too. So when I started to “collect” objects it just came naturally. They’re not as understanding now though – I have my room and two houses full of objects, and everything is organized according to my own sense order. Noboby is allowed to enter where I work, either, so nothing can be thrown away – there are a couple of fingers of dust in there, but it doesn’t matter to me, it’s alright like that.
What would you say is the main message of the work displayed in the exhibition at Agora Gallery?
Franco: The message I would like to transmit is passion and respect, both of which are essential to create something of value. This is true both in life, and in work.
Do you have much technical knowledge? For example, would you know how to assemble your own computer?
Franco: I don’t know anything about my computer in that sense, I couldn’t reassemble it. I have other people around me who know how to do that. But I know the technology, and it fascinates me to know what is inside the computer, as well as how the individual compoments work – which is obviously relevant to my work because I use the parts, not the whole. It’s like with a car, I drive it, and understand the individual parts, but I wouldn’t start to work as a repair man. But I’m happy with what I do know.
Franco: The microwave. I like its waves, the cavity within, the simplicity and elegant functionality. I also find it interesting that it has to be inexpensive, for commercial reasons. Usually it is precisely the use we make of objects that makes them precious. For example, in one of my artworks there is a part of a respirator from a hospital unit. I tried to think when I was using it how many breaths of how many people have gone in there, and how many lives it saved.
Does your Italian cultural background inform your work in any way?
Franco: I don’t know, but I think so. It is certainly easier, living in a city like Florence, because you see and absorb art without realizing it. I can say that I regret not having gone to art school. The technical school that I attended, however, gave me great satisfaction and the technical basis for my compositions, so it was important in its own way. For example, thanks to that education, I can weld in at least four different ways.
Skylines feature significantly in the work that is part of the Agora Gallery exhibition. What is it about them that speaks to you?
Franco: I like to observe cities from up high, maybe even from a helicopter (when I can). I was always excited to see the profiles of towns and to try to see them again in my artwork.
Last Sunday two major technology websites reported on your work, and since then it has appeared on hundreds of other websites, and been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. How do you feel about the sudden explosion of interest?
Franco: Although I know it seems like a trivial answer, the truth is that I simply did not expect it and it hasn’t sunk in. It feels as if they are talking about someone else, instead of me. I don’t believe it yet!
Franco Recchia’s work can be seen in the exhibition The Odyssey Within: An Exhibition of Fine Art by Greek and Italian Artists which opens at Agora Gallery this Thursday, December 16, 2010. It will remain at Agora Gallery until January 7, 2011. The reception is this Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m. Franco’s work, and other fine art for sale from the other artists in the exhibition, can be purchased from ARTmine.com.
Gallery Location: 530 West 25th St, New York City
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.