High-Tech Fabergé

Palo Alto, Calif., is recognized as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, but until now it lacked a public landmark commemorating its fame. An effort to change that began in 2000 when the town's art commission asked multimedia artist Adriana Varella to propose a project. She designed a giant egg, a Styrofoam sculpture covered in discarded circuit boards, only to see the final product--obviously symbolizing birth—go up in flames in a warehouse fire.

Tekla S. Perry

Udeterred, Varella selected about 600 more circuit boards and distributed them to engineers, academics, and even a few homeless people, asking that each write a phrase about circuits on a board, which she then collected and used to rebuild the sculpture. On 6 May, the 2.13-meter-tall sculpture was installed in Lytton Plaza, a brick-paved public space abutting Palo Alto's main commercial street, University Avenue.

Tekla S. Perry


It was to be formally unveiled a month later, but after just two days a group of teens began to tear off the wrappings, bringing its gestation to a premature end. Varella didn't mind. "It was just curiosity," she says, which of course is what she wants.

 

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