I could never get the hang of the Rubik’s Cube, still can’t. That has obviously never been the case for Pete Fecteau. Being more than comfortable with a Rubik’s Cube in his hand, Pete goes one step further in Rubik’s fluency, using them as his medium in his large-scale piece ‘Dream Big’. He took a little time to tell us about himself and this impressive project.
My name is Pete Fecteau and I’m an artist and designer. My fascination with Rubik’s Cubes started in 2008 when I decided to learn how to solve one. It was super addictive once I memorized the algorithms and, within a year, I was solving them in less than a minute.
It never occurred to me to use them for art until it came to me in a dream, literally. I came up with the idea to make one of the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube mosaics as my entry into the ArtPrize competition. I knew it was entirely possible and I used my skills as a designer to create a digital version of the mosaic and then a system for me to navigate and track each cube as I build the mosaic by hand.
The Rubik’s cube has a very limited color palette and I wanted to use 5 of the 6 colors to translate the work of Martin Luther King Jr. into a dynamic, analogous visual. I started by composing the image in black and white and then separated the grey scale into 9 solids.
Those 9 greys were then swapped with the 5 cube colors and the gradients between them. The process was and is a true test of color theory. Once I had the cubes, which was the hardest part of the whole process, the construction was simple. 4,242 Rubik’s Cubes, 5 colors, 1 subject.
I’m too cheap to buy or rent studio space. I’ve always borrowed space. Now that I’m in San Francisco, studio space is even more out of the question. I’m planning another mosaic for 2013 which will be twice as big and will probably rent out storage space in a self-storage facility.
I prefer bleak, featureless spaces because there’s so much to focus on. Any kind of distraction is a huge risk. I don’t listen to music or eat/drink while I’m working. I also prefer to work alone. I guess that makes me an art hermit, huh?
© Pete Fecteau, 2011