Fine artist John Peralta "explodes" our most beloved machines to create elegant sculptural works

John Peralta

From his life as a teenager in communes throughout Utah, New York and Colorado, to marrying and having three kids by the age of 26, nothing about John Peralta is usual. Peralta’s passion for science and the arts has been explored through various career paths, which include serving as the Executive Director of International External Affairs at UCLA, and starting a small toy company. It seems there isn’t much that Peralta can’t find inspiration in, especially when it comes to creation itself.

When Peralta reflects on his childhood and what one could consider the first step of his professional art career, one curious thing comes to mind: collecting broken electronics from yards and neighbors with his brother. As a teen, he’d take up sketching and was inspired by “M.C. Escher and the great cubist artists like Metzinger and Picasso. I loved the way they broke all the rules of geometry, symmetry and mechanics to create their own. They are still my greatest inspirations.”

As a child in a commune, Peralta learned resourcefulness and self-reliance. These qualities have shown almost quite literally with the concepts, technique and material he uses to create his sculptural fine art. While living in Hong Kong, Peralta caught a glimpse of a bicycle in the exploded view on the back of a magazine. “Although I had seen many such drawings over the years, I was suddenly struck by its fragile beauty and imagined a three-dimensional version made with a real mechanical object. My first subject was a simple pocket watch from the 1960s. Pleased with the result, I realized I had finally found a truly original creative outlet that combined my interests in art, design, science and engineering.”

The idea of an exploded diagram is now being executed as Peralta’s sculptural works, “exploding” machines and instruments that are often connected with creativity and nostalgia. Choosing machines that combine “utility and invention,” for example, a Singer sewing machine, a Fender guitar and a Remington Portable typewriter, Peralta’s dissection is followed by a delicate hanging of each part, piece by piece, to form the whole with a new life. He comments, “They are also examples of great aesthetic design. It’s really the combination of complexity, beauty, and cultural assimilation that makes for a great piece: a sewing machine like your grandmother’s Singer, an Underwood typewriter like the one your grandfather used in the war, or the projector your parents showed family films on.”

There are beautiful immersive qualities to Peralta’s work in more than one way, channeling a viewer’s sentiment. His creative process for exploding machines is similarly thoughtful. He describes, “In fact, I did explode an iconic (1984) Macintosh computer (entitled: Over the Rainbow, 2017). It’s one of my favorite pieces. After choosing an object that interests me, I start by examining it from all angles. I spend a lot of time picturing it in my head as were exploded and how I want to ‘frame’ or present it. My aim is not to create a precise reproduction of an exploded diagram, but an artistic interpretation that incorporates cubist and other geometric perspectives. Once I’ve decided on the configuration and presentation, I disassemble the entire mechanism and restore the condition of each piece. I then lay them out on my workbench roughly as I want them and take measurements. I use these measurements to fabricate the supporting frame out of wood, steel, aluminum and/or other materials. In most cases, I also install internal lighting. Finally, I start to suspend the individual pieces using steel and fluorocarbon mono-filament. My exact techniques I’ll keep to myself, but every component presents a unique challenge to suspend and align in just the right way.”

While Peralta draws his own impressions from his works, he acknowledges that for others, they may conjure up different feelings. He says, “Like any artist, I get a lot of satisfaction from people’s reactions to my work. I envision working on more commissioned and public pieces, having done a few that are on view in different settings around the world. I enjoy working with clients to create pieces that reflect their personal interests, work, or experiences. I’m also now working on several concepts for very large public sculptures that I’m excited about.”

Check out more of Peralta’s work at

Carly Zinderman

Carly Zinderman is a Senior Staff Writer for JustLuxe, based just outside of Los Angeles, CA. Since graduating from Occidental College with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies, she has written on a variety of topics for books, magazines and online publications, but loves fashion and style best. In her spare time, when she?s not writing, Carly enjoys watching old movies, reading an...(Read More)

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