Picturing Steve Jobs in Fragments of Apple’s Past
San Francisco-based artist Jason Mecier, who makes celebrity portraits out of their personal junk, just finished his first (and maybe last) tech titan: Steve Jobs in e-waste. Using 20 pounds of recycled computer supplies (an iPod, an iBook, circuit boards, batteries and floppy disks), he recreated the iconic 2006 photograph of Jobs by Albert M. Watson.
Mecier’s mosaic, which took 40 hours to complete, is detailed and densely packed. Mecier “painted” Jobs’s jawline with parts of an iPhone, his brow with batteries, his ear with Ethernet cables and a very small peace sign. He sculpted the head with a green arc of circuit boards. Jobs’s face and body are a melee of computer detritus against a backdrop composed in shades of off-white — a charger cord is coiled as though still in the box.
Originally from Southern California, Mecier, 45, works out of his house in the city’s Mission district, and says he doesn’t own an iPod.
Re/code: How did you get all the materials together?
Jason Mecier: Usually, celebrities will send me their junk, and I’ll make stuff out of it. Rosie O’Donnell sent me kids’ toys in Ziplocs. It looks like they just cleaned their whole house. Crystal Hefner sent me Hugh’s red pajamas and some bottles of baby oil. For this one, I had some computer stuff around. And my techie friends — they have the new iPods already, so they gave me their old ones.
Why did you choose Jobs?
My cousin wanted it. I’m a working artist; I take commissions. (Similar commissions range between $3,500-$7,500.)
And why e-waste?
The e-waste is iconic, too, so it just kind of made sense.
You mix old and new tech to make the portrait. Was there any process with it?
I like that his face is really old, like old floppy disks. It has a history of computers. But the background is all shiny and white and brand new. So, behind him it’s like how it is now, and you see in his face how it was in the ’70s.
Is there a political message here?
I’m more of a visual artist than a speaker — but the message is to think twice. I don’t even have an iPod. But there’s people where that’s the most important thing in the world. It’s just a piece of white plastic to me — expensive white plastic. Hopefully this sparks some kind of thought.
Do you want to do more tech celebrities?
I think Jobs is the most iconic one as far as techies. I’m not a techie — I’m really more into “Real Housewives.” So, less Steve Jobs and more Lisa Vanderpump. Or Big Ang — that’s who I really want to do now. She’s one of the “Mob Wives,” and has this smokey, raspy voice and huge boobs, like huge watermelons, which would be interesting to make.