I'm a software engineer by training. In my work, I shuffle abstractions from one representation to another. Fred Brooks writes, "the programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff." I have a lot of of room for creativity in my work, but most of what I produce exists as ephemeral bits in a memory or on a disk.

The art I present on this page is my way of giving a tangible form to this abstract experience.

Ed Seykota (2009)

Ed Seykota is a legendary trader and teacher. Ed plays the banjo, trades commodity futures and helps people experience their feelings.

Ed believes that intention equals results. Win or lose, everybody gets what they want. Some people seem to like to lose, so they win by losing. Ed does not believe either the past of the future exist, except as concepts in the moment of now. These concepts are convenient places to park feelings you want to avoid, or things you don't want to do.

Ed encourages people to experience their feelings fully, in the moment of now. Feelings that you are unwilling to experience end up driving your life. You may unconsciously set up dramas that force you to experience the very feelings you try to avoid. Experiencing feelings fully, and without judging them, builds wisdom.

Ed writes an FAQ column on his website, http://www.seykota.com

This 16"x38" mosaic consists of 16,993 holes through a piece of whiteboard. I write software that drives a CNC mill to drill 1/8" holes through the external, white coating to reveal darker material inside.

"Stay in Formation:" B-17 (2009)

You are a 21-year-old Lieutenant in command of a crew weapon. You are taking 9 other men into combat, some as young as 17. You are on a 7 hour roundtrip to drop 5,000lbs of bombs on a German city. You can expect temperatures 50° below zero, mechanical failure, flak and Luftwaffe interceptors.

Curtis LeMay develops the "Combat Box" formation as a way for bombers to cover each other with machine gun fire. The tight formation (50-foot clearances between 100-foot wings) lets bombers mass firepower against German fighters but leaves literally no wiggle room to the individual bombers. No room for individual initiative, ingenuity or evasive maneuvers. Fighters are shooting 30mm cannon at you, and you must stay in formation. A straggler is good as dead. The only safety there is is in the herd. You must stay in formation. Stay in formation. Stay in formation.

24"x30" whiteboard

USS Macon at Hangar One (2008)

I live under the final approach into Moffett Field, famous for its 8-acre Hangar One, world's largest free-standing structure.

The Navy builds Hangar One at what is then NAS Sunnyvale in 1933 to house USS Macon, its largest airship. The Macon crashes off California's Point Sur in 1935, killing 2 of her 76-man crew. Hangar One remains a prominent landmark in Silicon Valley.

18"x36" whiteboard

Polikarpov Po-2 (2008)

Nikolai Polikarpov designs a primary trainer biplane in 1928. Production continues until 1958 and tops 40,000 copies. In 1948 my father solos in one as a cadet in Soviet paramilitary youth aero club. His mother finds out and puts an end to his flying. He keeps fond memories of his flying but never pilots an airplane again. In 2008 I present him with this image to commemorate his flight.

This rendering consists of 6 layers of color paper. I cut hole patterns in each layer that represent pixels in that color and stack the layers one on top of the other. The process is reminiscent of silk-screen printing.

Make: Magazine ad (2008)

ShopBot Tools manufacture one of the CNC machines I use to make my art. Their full-page ad in Make: Magazine profiles my work as an example of cool stuff you can make with their product.

Eric S. Raymond (2008)

Raymond is famous for coining the phrase "Open Source" and starting the Open Source Initiative. He is the author of The Art of Unix Programming, an insightful look at the oral tradition that is the Unix culture, and the editor of The Jargon File, a look into the world of Hackers, the real ones.

Raymond is also a gun rights activist. In Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun, he expresses his belief that "right choices are possible, and the ordinary judgement of ordinary (wo)men is sufficient to make them."

This mosaic consists of about seven thousand .40 brass casings. I notice that a casing can look light or dark depending on which way I turn it. I use this effect to create a bi-level image. This piece elicits more reactions than any of my other mosaics. One observer asks if these are Unix shells.

23"x34", 40 lbs

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Wikipedia Squirrel (2008)

I notice a surprising fact when I work on my Eagle II mosaic--"paper-thin" is actually quite thick. That mosaic is 10 layers deep and I find that the deepest layers look darker, as if looking down a well. I look for an image I can render in a small number of colors and find this image on Wikipedia. I cut a 6-color mosaic using it a starting point.

11"x14", 6 layers of laser-cut paper

Seagull (2008)

A seagull is flying over the Monterey Bay. I capture both the bird and the bay first on my SLR, then in hardwood. This is one of my favorite mosaics. I like the interplay of wood grain, clouds and waves.

Close up, the seagull looks blocky, and the rest like a random dot stereogram. From a couple of steps back, I can almost feel the wind that the seagull is riding on.

21"x46" maple plywood

Christen Eagle II (2008)

Frank Christensen develops the Eagle as a derivative of the Pitts Special in the 1970's and markets it as a kit for homebuilders. Christensen finishes his prototypes in a striking 8-color scheme. Many builders choose to emulate it, and the design is as famous for this paint scheme as it is for its aerobatic performance.

I construct this mosaic out of 10 layers of color paper. I laser-cut holes in each sheet, and when I line them up just so, a colorful airplane appears. On the full-size view, you can see the margins of different color sheets one under the other.

12"x16" laser-cut color paper

Self-Portrait (2008)

There is something very self-referential in a photograph of an artist holding a life-size self portrait. The core of the plywood I use in this piece is darker than the oak veneer on top. Removing some of the veneer creates this bi-tone image.

16"x23" oak-veneer plywood

Flatiron Building, NY, 1903 (2008)

I fondly remember reading O. Henry as a kid. Many of his New York short stories feature the Flatiron Building as a sort of recurring guest character. I remember my impression that it dominates the landscape around it as the prototypical skyscraper. I recall searching for it on my first visit to New York in 1989 and my sense of disappointment at finally finding it way below the skyline. In the gutter, almost.

Twenty years later, I make an 8-foot mosaic from a 1903 photograph. The image, contemporary with O. Henry's writing, shows the building against an empty sky. The mosaic, my largest to date, reconciles my childhood interpretation with historic reality.

24"x96" melamine shelf, 60,000 1/8" holes

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P-38 Lightning (2008)

I find it interesting how the human eye fills in missing detail in these low resolution mosaics. If I look at this one from a distance (or look at the thumbnail), I can see the P-38 in detail. I can make out the propellers, the downward-facing antenna on its nose and the cockpit. I can even see the square fields the airplane is flying over. As I get closer (or look at the full-size photo), only a very general outline remains and the detail disappears.

17"x24" whiteboard

Messerschmitts in Israel, 1948 (2008)

By an ironic twist of fate, Messerschmitts are the first combat aircraft to serve with the Israeli Air Force. In 1948, Czechoslovakia is the only country that agrees to sell weapons to the newly-independent state, and most of what they have for sale is what the Germans leave behind when then withdraw at the end of WWII. Avia S-199 marries surplus Messerschmitt airframes to surplus Jumo engines. The airplanes change the regional balance of airpower when they arrive in Israel and many authors credit them with turning back the Egyptian invasion. The type takes heavy losses in the fighting and is unpopular with its Israeli pilots who fly an unlikely collection of hand-me-downs. Recalls one: "The Spitfire cockpit fitted like a glove, the Messerschmitt like a strait-jacket, the Mustang like a too comfortable armchair."

19"x47" whiteboard

Uma Thurman (study, 2005)

I'm always looking for new materials to use in my mosaics. I'm looking for objects that are common and recognizable. This 3-D Uma Thurman study uses M&M candy as pixels. While M&Ms are available in no fewer than 21 colors, regular packs contain 6 colors and these are the only ones that look like M&M to most people. The color space (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Brown) can usefully represent only some images. A slight complication is that blue and orange tend to blend into magenta when viewed from a distance.

"Knee Deep" (2004)

A young woman dips her toes into the Pacific. Around San Francisco, the water is quite cold even in July, so she only gets her feet wet.

Dice make good pixels. They are uniform in size and offer 6 distinct shades of grey, depending on which face is up. One nice side effect is that you never have to worry about inventories--you never run out of any particular color; each die can represent any of the 6 shades.

25x77 pixels, 2.6 bit-per-pixel color depth, 12"x36.5", 1925 dice, 5 lbs.

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George Orwell (2004)

Orwell makes a fitting counterpart to Guevara. Both fight in civil wars, both consider themselves socialists. Both leave lasting legacies.

Orwell's Homage to Catalonia is an autobiographic account of his involvement in the Spanish civil war. The book begins with an Orwell full of idealism going to fight for the cause. He commands a company on the Aragon front, sustains a near-fatal wound to the neck, and finds that competing socialist factions are more dangerous to him than the nationalists he is ostensibly fighting. Returning home, he writes his most famous books--Animal Farm and 1984.

"No one... failed to assure me that a man who is hit through the neck and survives is the luckiest creature alive. I could not help thinking that it would be even luckier not to be hit at all." --George Orwell discusses luck in Homage to Catalonia.

35x55 pixels, 2.6 bit-per-pixel color depth, 17"x30" 1925 dice

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Che Guevara (2004)

In 1994, I have a summer job as a tour guide at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. One of our interactive exhibits there has visitors constructing Abraham Lincoln's face out of dominoes. Even at 18x18 "pixels" the face is recognizable -- at a distance. Lincoln's, of course, is a very distinctive face. I look for another similarly recognizable face, and think of Che Guevara. I make a 20x20 mockup (dice laid out on my desk, with no glue), and it seems to work. This success inspires me to continue with this project.

20x20 pixels, 2.6 bit-per-pixel color depth, 10"x10" 400 dice