Unless you’re a weird superfan of The Brave Little Toaster, you probably don’t think about your toaster’s internal life or about the mechanisms inside it. The complex inner circuitry of electrical appliances is almost always hidden from a user’s view. And that’s a shame, as some circuitry is as intricate as a work of art.
For her graduate presentation at London’s Royal College of Art, designer Cindy Strobach wanted to visualize the insides of commonplace electronic objects–specifically, a toaster and a speaker. Using silk, organic dye made from cabbage juice, and a pair of electrodes, she created colorful “X-rays” (of sorts) of the internal structures of these objects. Strobach describes her technique for the series, called “Electro Colour,” as “painting with electricity.”
To create the images, which resemble Abstract Expressionist paintings or Shibori tie-dye, Strobach stains a piece of silk with an organic dye made from red cabbage juice, creating a bright, monochromatic square. This dyed silk is then laid on top of the inner circuit board of the toaster and the speaker, and connected to a negative and a positive electrode. The negative electrode becomes alkaline and the positive electrode becomes acidic, and these send electric currents through the silk. As the current passes through, it changes the color of the dye, creating impressions in midnight blues, mustard yellows, and blacks.
These dyed “X-rays” are then draped over the outside of the appliances themselves, visualizing their skeletal internal circuitry from the outside. It’s a bit like a human wearing one of those skeleton T-shirts.