The Last Sin

The Last Sin (
The Last Sin by Heather Miller

Title: The Last Sin
Year: 2010
Size: 14″ x 6.75″ x ~1.5″

The Last Sin was created using a digital archival print, a SATA cable, a circuit board, calculator buttons, an alarm clock button, and acrylic paint.

The Story:

I’m wrote this story in 2016, the piece was created in 2010.  I did my best to remember the details.

The part I remember most about this piece is the sheer level of frustration & stupidity that went into it.  I ended up having to buy three frames because I messed up when I first attempted to glue the SATA cable to the glass.  While I was able to clean the adhesive off of the glass, I somehow damaged the original frame.  I remember returning to the store where I bought two more frames, just in case.

The digital archival print that makes up the background for that piece is where the stupidity comes in.  I paid a stupid amount of money for it.  I did not take that photograph.  At the time I did not own a DSLR, much less that many computer cables.  I had to pay to license the image.  This was also the first time I ever had anything printed on a high quality paper.  I seriously overpaid for that.  By a lot.

The Last Sin - Detail Image |
The Last Sin – Detail Image

I don’t remember how I actually started this piece.  I know I had already purchased the first frame & was playing with some of the collection of computer cables, circuit boards, & buttons I had in my collection.  I noticed the SATA cable (the black stripe in the center) was a bit smaller than the circuit board.  I think that started it.  After the aforementioned gluing mishap, I settled on gluing the circuit board onto the connectors for the SATA cable to elevate it.  The cable itself was painted with a flat black acrylic paint.  Down the center I used a metallic acrylic paint.  The piece was still missing many components at that point.

I will point out that I’m kind of a nerd & sometimes I have a weird sense of humor.  I was playing around with the calculator buttons when I stumbled across “last” and “sin.”  It amused me to think of ‘sin’ in the religious sense of doing bad things rather than the mathematical sense.  I also had buttons from an old travel alarm clock, one of which said “Snooze | Light.”   Staying within the religious realm, I decided these three buttons needed to be together.  I added the three ‘6’ buttons to emphasize that I was going for a quasi-religious bit of humor (twisted humor obviously, but it still makes me laugh like a 9-year-old).

I realized I needed a background to the piece.  I also knew that a variety of cables splayed out would be perfect.  Finding that image was not so easy.  After realizing that my little point-and-shoot camera was woefully inadequate, and that I lacked the number of cables needed, I started searching stock photo sites.  It took weeks to find the right image with an affordable license.  I was overjoyed at finding the image and knew I was going to reduce any profit from the piece by paying the fee, but when something works, it works.  Having that image printed became the nightmare I wasn’t prepared for.  It is a beautiful image, printed on beautiful paper.  Was it worth the money I spent?  No.  I have to admit it.  It was not worth it.  I spent a small fortune on a bit of blasphemous humor that no one has purchased.

However, some good did come out of this.  This piece was the inspiration for my entire senior thesis project for my BFA & provided the title for the exhibition.  Normally I hate “concept art” but I went to an art school where they love it.  I railed against that for four years.  I know my professors assumed I didn’t like it because I didn’t ‘understand’ it and certainly couldn’t create it.  $1,500.00 and a massive installation later, I slammed that notion down their throats.  I understand concept art which is why I think it’s stupid.  I sure as hell can do concept art, but I think it’s a waste of time, effort, and resources.  I won’t even attempt to explain my project here as I could easily write a book on it because it was really that involved.  The one piece from that exhibit that survives is USB-NA.

In the end, The Last Sin may be an expensive bit of failure but I learned a lot. I now know where to get high quality prints cheaply.  I now know never to license stock photography.  But most importantly, I got an A+ on my senior thesis all because of a few buttons from a calculator and an alarm clock.