Shimmering Crystal Totems From An Unknown Future

Amy Brener’s lovely resin sculptures are part fossil and part monument.

In his 1996 book Idoru, William Gibson imagined future computers made from ivory, resin, and coral. Nearly 20 years later, Brooklyn artist Amy Brener is creating totemic sculptures that look very much like the machines Gibson described.


Brener, who was born in Vancouver, graduated from Hunter College in 2010 and set up shop in New York shortly after. Her sculptures are both organic and futuristic, as though some future race of druids sent them, 2001: A Space Odyssey-style, to guide us. Brener calls them “artifacts of an imagined future.”

At first glance, the sculptures look like massive chunks of crystal, carved into primitive shapes. In fact, Brener makes them by hand, using the most pedestrian of materials: concrete, resin, and pigment. She builds a wooden form-work to give each piece its shape, then pours dozens of layers of lavender and orange-tinted resin into the frame. As the resin layers cure, Brener embeds found objects–like mirrors–into the mold. Some contain fresnel lenses, the flat lenses used in lighthouses and projectors, which refract light from within the form. Others are embedded with fragments of technology–the imprint of a keyboard, or the faint glimmer of a circuit board, buried behind layers of iridescent resin.

Brener prefers not to comment on her work, but in an artist’s statement, she hints at an almost anthropological basis for the sculptures. “Some sculptures may be markers for an unknown border, while others hint at vehicular function,” she writes. “Some surfaces are ordered into compositions that allude to touch-screen platforms, energy cells and the digital logic of a different reality.”

It’s as though her mission, as an artist, is to imagine the technologies of some future society, already lost to us. “Their surfaces are complex crusts that appear to have cracked, crystallized and weathered with time. Within these crusts there are fragments of technology: the microchips, panels and screens of an unknown future.”


About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.