From the 1930s through the 1970s, Aerolux Light Corporation produced these amazing novelty light bulbs that contained sculptural filaments in the shape of flowers, birds, and myriad other designs that would illuminate in different colors. The bulbs contained a mixture of neon or argon (or both) and some of the components were coated with phosphors to achieve different color effects. Via Wikipedia:
Aerolux gas discharge light bulbs contained low pressure gas, either neon or argon, or a mixture of the two. Also within the bulb were metal sculptures coated with phosphors. These phosphors fluoresced when excited by glow discharge. Because glow discharge occurs readily at 110-120 volts AC, one could use these bulbs in standard household lamps in the United States.
The phosphors used in the bulbs were somewhat brittle, necessitating care in handling. Shaking or jarring the bulbs would cause flaking and migration of the phosphors to other parts of the metallic sculpture. Such handling would leave non-fluorescing portions of the sculpture and/or migration of phosphors to other surfaces within the bulb.
At the height of production some of the bulbs sold for a mere .20 cents, but can now fetch hundreds of dollars on Ebay or Etsy. If you happen to be in New York you can see a bonafide Aerolux bulb that’s on permanent display at MoMA as part of an artwork by artist Dan Flavin. (via Neatorama, Geyser of Awesome, Oddity Central)
Chicago-based photographer Reuben Wu (previously here and here) recently photographed the Nevada SolarReserve, a grouping over 10,000 mirrors which power nearly 75,000 homes both day and night during its peak season. Wu photographed the mass of reflective panels during nightfall, allowing the brilliant colors of the sunset to be doubled into the shining surfaces below. Wu likens the energy facility to a topographic ocean, considering it one of the greatest land art installations ever built.
First the sea gave birth to life. Now, thanks to a trio of Philippine-based inventors, it is giving birth to light as well. Led by engineer Lipa Aisa Mijena, the team has developed a lamp that’s capable emitting light for 8 hours on just 1 cup of saltwater. Not only are the Philippines prone to natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes but the country is made up of over 7,000 islands, most of which do not have access to electricity, says the team. But one thing they do have is the sea, an abundant source of saltwater that can now be used to light homes and, in emergencies, power cell phones.
The saltwater-powered lamp uses the same science that forms the basis of battery-making. Where they differ from batteries is that the entire reaction is safe and harmless. Moreover, there are no flammable materials or components that go into lamp. Used 8 hours a day, every day, the team says the lamp can provide light for 6 months (or even over a year if used more efficiently) without having to replace any parts.
Over the past year or so SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) has won 7 different sustainability and entrepreneurial awards. If interested, you can enter your name and email on their website to receive product updates but right now the team is focusing on building lamps for their target communities. (via Web Urbanist)
Photographer Marc Simon Frei snapped these interesting photos by arcing objects to a Tesla coil. He’s also been experimenting with different kinds of LED-illuminated clouds (not unlike what we’ve seen from Richard Clarkson), and some fun shots of wool clouds sprouting tiny lighting storms. You can see more over on his Google+ page. (via The Awesomer)
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.