Artist Statement

On October 19, 2021, author Thomas Friedman wrote an opinion for the New York Times wherein he remarked that China’s recent aggressive behavior toward Taiwan is in part because of Taiwan’s preeminence in advanced semiconductor production. The world needs semiconductors urgently as the supply chain issues for cars and other necessary products has proven to Americans since March 2020 when the Pandemic began. China’s manufacturers are no exception.

That is why these prints are relevant three decades after I started working on the theme of semiconductor plate images as metaphors for computation, artificial intelligence and digital storage.

My art is rare because I use original semiconductor wafer manufacturing rejects as well as copper plates acid-etched from photographs of engineering drawings of prototype chips. None of these were accessible to other artists. I acquired them from a semiconductor startup that only operated between 1992 and 1997: it went bankrupt. In its time, it was considered a start-up alternative to Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, and Texas Instruments.

Since 1991, I’ve made over 300 different prints with a finite set of plates obtained or made between 1992 and 1998. Using those printing plates in various iterations, I’ve created art that speaks to the significance of IT and the internet on society through my visual images.

In the ‘Antique series’, I took aim at the transition and evolution of the word ‘originals’ because it was around 1988 that the US Supreme Court first permitted electronic document submissions. I use a single plate as a metaphor for computers and their ability to create multiple ‘originals’: an oxymoron. Under a single plate image (of an actual prototype plate) are original documents and pictures that date from 1880 – 1950 to make the point that they are not digitized images. I do not use copies of any original photos or documents. Education curators have found these images to be valuable in demonstrating the concept of paper-to-digital data storage in many disciplines: biology, botany, genetics, law, etc.

In the ‘Out of Control series’ I hand colored over 60 single plate prints to convey the gist of Kevin Kelly’s book ‘Out of Control’. The books is about the apparent serendipity in nature and how humans cannot always control the physical world. Kevin Kelly is an author, formerly a journalist, who together with Stewart Brand founded The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I attended their lectures for years but was drawn to Kelly’s books and photojournalism even earlier.

For my color prints, I’ve focused on four plate prints. Some are more transparent than others: engineers at two computer companies where they were shown tried to reverse engineer the technology by looking at my images. By 2004, I had a trove of un-numbered or Artist Proof prints, I collaged two or three together to create the MMS series. MMS stands for MicroModule Systems, the name of the manufacturing plant in Santa Clara where these semiconductors were made. They were never offshored. One of my triptychs is titled ‘Stop! Wait! Go!’ and I made it when traffic signals, originally introduced I 1914, became ‘smart’ in the 1990s.

I completed an MBA, an MA in TESOL, and hundreds of hours in post graduate art history. I’ve been to 42 countries and speak four languages. I have had my pulse on IT since 1977 when I worked for TRW. As an IT industry analyst for more than a decade in Hong Kong and Redwood City, CA, I was often reporting on new technology and its potential impact. I was granted a patent in social media along with four other inventors. My Silicon Valley startup between 2000 and 2005 was years ahead of its time and was never fully funded.

Deborah Puretz

b.1954

I studied fine art at several schools over the course of my career

1990 - 2006
Print studios around the San Francisco Bay Area
1990 - 1992
San Jose University - sculpture student
1988 - 1990
San Francisco Art Institute - painting student
1990
Marchutz School, Aix-Marseille University
1990
Independent study with Sam Tchakalian, San Francisco, California
1989
Studio Arts College International (SACI), Florence, Italy
1988
Pilchuck Glass School, Seattle, Washington
1987
School of Visual Arts, Urbino, Italy
1976
Thunderbird Global School of Management at Arizona State University, Glendale, Arizona
1971 - 1975
UCLA and Lund University, Sweden