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Artist Makes Computer with Antiques

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EUGENE, Ore. — A local artist is making kinetic waves across the country and the World Wide Web.

Steve La Riccia has been involved in the local art scene for decades, but he’s only been crafting his newest creations for the past year. In that time though, he’s already made a lasting impression in this somewhat mechanical genre of art.

La Riccia owns the New Zone Art Gallery downtown and Steamworks Research and Design Labs, where his steam punk creations come to life.

A sub genre of science fiction, Steam Punk Art places an emphasis on steam or spring-propelled gadgets.

With LaRiccia’s piece called Babbage’s Machination, you can take a full tour of a 2006 Mac computer and travel back in time to a 1900s Singer treadle sewing machine, an 1893 typewriter converted into a keyboard. There’s also¬†a Morse code telegraph key as the mouse, transmitters that he’s repurposed into the speakers, and a Kodak camera which is his webcam.

The piece exudes insane intricacy. It’s not just for looks.

“All my work is interactive and kinetic. They do all these wonderful things,” La Riccia said.

With a resume that bodes building airplanes and tinkering with televisions, his attention to detail grabbed the attention of other artists right away.

“Ninety-nine percent of all Steam Punk contraptions, or I should say art, are static…It was just a different concept than what they were used to…They were amazed at what I did on my dining room table with nothing but a hand drill and a soldering iron,” La Riccia said.

If it isn’t obvious by now, La Riccia is into his craft.

“I enjoy what I do. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

But so are others, which is part of why his wheels keep turning.

“I love showing these contraptions off to the public. I found that kids age 3 to 93 love my contraptions,” La Riccia said.

If you are blown away by La Riccia’s creations, you’re not alone. Earlier Wednesday he moved the Babbage’s Machination into the Mac Store at the Valley River Center to be on display for the holidays. He’ll be there to demonstrate the device every Friday during lunch hour.

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