Apple Tree with Chandelier, Nettie Fox Farm, Newburgh, Maine 2013
Artist Caleb Charland (previously here and here) just unveiled several new images from his Back to Light series, where the artist uses nails inside fruit connected with copper wire to create functional batteries. Harnessed to a small lightbulb, the current is sufficient enough to provide illumination for long exposure photographs. Effectively, the organic batteries create enough voltage to light their own portrait. Charland says about Back to Light:
My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources. [...] My hope is that these photographs function as micro utopias by suggesting and illustrating the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.
Charland is currently focusing on his work full-time from a studio in Bangor, Maine, where he created another body of work titled Artifacts of Fire and Wax.
This orange battery was built by photographer Caleb Charland (previously) as part of his ongoing alternative energy photographs using fruit, vegetables, and other objects to create light for his long-exposure photographs. The electricity powering the lightbulb inside the orange is generated through a chemical reaction between citric acid and the zinc nails inserted into each wedge. I think this is by far the most lovely piece he’s done in the series, but before you start work on a bunch of orange lights to keep on the nightstand, the light generated was so dim this particular photograph required a 14 hour exposure.
Portland, Maine-based photographer Caleb Charland frequently merges art and science with his photographic experiments involving electricity, fire, and magnetism. One of his ongoing projects involves a series of alternative power sources created using fruit, coins, and even vinegar to power the lights in his long exposure photographs. The apple photograph above involved a nearly 11-hour setup as he carefully hammered 300 zinc-coated galvanized nails into apples (zinc reacts with acid in the apples creating electricity, science!) and used copper wiring to transfer the current to a standard living room lamp. Even then, the light was so dim it required a 4-hour exposure during which Charland fended off ravenous deer through the night with an impromptu shaker made from a tin can and wire nuts. You can read much more about the ordeal over on Discover, and here’s a video of the entire project coming together.
Caleb recent launched a new website where you can access a few years of his photography, I strongly urge you to at least look at his Demonstrations gallery. He’ll also have a few prints in an upcoming group show at Brancolini Grimaldi in London this September.