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Photographer sees apparitions in apparatuses

'Ghosts in the Machine' on display at Mt. Hood's Fireplace Gallery from Jan. 2-30


When most people look at a computer circuit board, they see, well ... a computer circuit board.

When Mark Crummett looks at a computer circuit board, however, he envisions a community.

“It’s a cliché to say that a circuit board looks like a city, yet they both have an architectural feel to them,” Crummett says. “If you get down close and squint, with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the people walking the streets, gazing up at towering heat sinks and power supplies, dodging chips and resistors on their way to work.”by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Pilgrim 1 is one of several Mark Crummett photos to be displayed in the Fireplace Gallery at Mt. Hood Community College in January.

Crummett let his imagination run wild in “Ghosts in the Machine,” a photographic exhibit on display Jan. 2-30 in the Fireplace Gallery at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

Crummett says he hooked up with the college when he responded to an ad inviting artists to submit their work for consideration to be displayed.

The “Ghosts in the Machine” are regular folks, depicted by toy figurines, that are dwarfed by the technology that pervades their lives; working on electronic components or shopping, walking, jogging and wandering.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Jammed.

Crummett, 58, a resident of Southeast Portland, says he was inspired by his dad, Clovis Crummett, himself a photographer and scriptwriter whose documentary about the inauguration of Lyndon Johnson was nominated for an Academy Award. Both men have been U.S. Army photographers, and Mark Crummett has also worked as a photojournalist and editor, primarily for newspapers in Maryland and Virginia.

Machine mysteriesby: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - System Adjuster.

Crummett says he’s fascinated with the relationship people have with technology, which he calls a “benign mystery” that envelops our lives.

“It becomes a part of us, and we become a part of it,” he says, whether it’s how we work with computers or how we use our cellphones. “We don’t even seem to notice we’re in the middle of it.”

His photos in “Ghosts” depict the figurines “working” with circuit boards, capacitors, clock mechanisms and the like.

“It’s very surreal,” he says. “Hopefully it makes people look at their technology a little differently.”

Take “Pilgrim 1,” which depicts a male figurine raising his hand to touch a copper coil, as a bicycle rests against a capacitor.

“I kind of like his opening up to the powers-that-be,” Crummett says. “I often let the figures and their poses contribute to the narrative of the image. A worker in overalls with arms outstretched may be designed to be working on a toy locomotive, but what else could he be doing? Paying homage to a holy relic? Flying through the air?”

Assemblage art

Crummett says he uses “technological castoffs” as his raw material and subject matter. by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Clockworkers.

He credits his wife of 27 years, Lisa Ordaneff, for supporting his work.

An accountant, she’ll bring home discarded circuit boards and other items from her office, he says, noting he then uses such items in his work.

“I like the look and shapes of technology,” he adds. “I like the fact it looks the way it does because it has to. Form following function in its purest form.”

He also says he hopes viewers will enjoy his exhibit at Mt. Hood.

“I love the disconnect you get when seeing some of these images for the first time,” he says. “ ‘That’s a person,’ our minds tell us, ‘but wait, that’s a … circuit board?’ Our mind takes a second to reconcile these two things, and in the process, transport us, and them, to a different place.”

To learn more about Crummett, visit markcrummett.net.