Last year, Trevor Woods was helping a professor to clean out his office.
“Some of these professors are eccentric,” says Woods, a technical officer in the School of Pharmacy at Trinity College.
They often hoard old trinkets, he says.
As he rummaged and sorted, he came across a box. Inside were 400 old floppy disks.
Outside of his Trinity day job, Woods was also doing a part-time diploma in art and design at the National College of Art and Design.
Where “you are very much pushed to develop your own style of artwork”, he says.
Woods dabbled in painting before the course but he wanted to learn more.
For Woods, that meant drawing on his commitment to recycling, he says. But not of milk bottles or plastic tubs – but of electronics.
“There’s a lot of electronics thrown out here [at Trinity] every single day,” says Woods.
Those 400 floppy disks, he decided, would be put to new use.
Inside a small brown frame, made from recycled wood, Woods assembled letters from old keyboards.
“A1 Sharon,” is written in white keys on a yellow-painted background. A homage to Roddy Doyle’s The Snapper.
White keyboards are hard to come by, Woods says. Most are black.
Another piece is dedicated to the electronic 90s band, The Prodigy. “The voodoo who do, what you don’t dare do,” the keys read.
Woods was surprised by how sad he felt about lead singer Keith Flint’s death. “We all grew up listening to them so this was my homage to him.”
“At this stage, I have easily taken apart over 400 keyboards,” says Woods.
Woods pries off the alphabet keys with a screwdriver. “Then I really have to clean them and let them soak in Dettol for a while.”
Woods sorts each letter into a separate compartment in a box. “My biggest fear is that the box falls and spills someday.”
An artist based in California, Erik Jensenmentors Woods on his projects.
“When you’re a singer you might look up to Mariah Carey. You always have to look up to someone,” Woods says.
Jensen somehow dyes the keyboard keys all different colours, Woods says. “But he won’t tell me how. That’s his trade secret.”
All The Parts
One of Woods’ paintings shows a lighthouse in classic white and red.
Where a light should sit there is a familiar shape; the metal circle at the centre of a floppy disk.
Upon closer inspection, the whole lighthouse is fashioned from floppy disks, painted over.
In another work, an owl is perched on a branch. Its beady eyes are made from the metal pieces of a floppy disk too.
“You’re able to paint on floppy disks with normal acrylic paint,” Woods says. It’s a good opportunity to practice your painting skills, he says.
Out of the 400 floppy disks that he found, Woods has 200 left.
Some equipment in Trinity still uses floppy disks, Woods says.
Upgrading some of these machines would cost thousands, he says. “When at the end of the day some of the analysis equipment just needs the old stuff.”
The creative process starts with finding the materials and then the project follows after that, Woods says.
Woods is now looking for Dublin poets to work with on an upcoming project.
He plans to put the work of seven or eight poets onto canvas using the recycled keyboards.