Elements of a Motherboard
by Marieken Cochius
Hudson, New York
Elements of the Motherboard is an ongoing series of mixed media collages made on large sheets of paper sourced from paper mills in the Netherlands. The title refers to the way a computer motherboard functions to allow communication between various electronic components, and to the idea of the motherboard as a simplified version of “mother earth.” The motherboard represents networks that are formed when a community of living organisms and nonliving components interact within an ecosystem. In both examples, if one element isn’t working or is out of balance, the whole system breaks down.
The works in the Elements of the Motherboard series contain geometric forms referencing computer chips and suggest comparisons between natural ecosystems and artificial intelligence. They also refer to the destruction of the environment, as man-made systems collapse and damage the world around them. I am fascinated by the ways technology is used to store and organize information. My work explores the relationship between human systems of knowledge and the structures of the natural world.
I grew up in the Netherlands, a beautiful country, but one of the most densely populated and over-developed countries in the world. My world there felt artificial. “Real” nature and its animals existed only in fairy tales, or the Middle Ages, or far away in other countries. I always wanted to leave and experience places that were not dominated by humans. Since moving to the United States over twenty years ago, I have travelled extensively across the country and lived and worked for months in remote areas. I am deeply concerned about the harm being done to the natural world, the reversal of so many environmental laws, and our seeming inability to stop the damage caused by climate change. These concerns are an underlying theme in my work.