electricity

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Photography

Freshly Cut Flowers Make Sparks in Electrically Charged Images by Hu Weiyi

February 18, 2019

Anna Marks

Image credits: Hu Weiyi and A+ Contemporary

Image credits: Hu Weiyi and A+ Contemporary

In The Tentacles project, by Chinese artist Hu Weiyi, bright sparks and fiery electrical waves flow through a series of freshly blossomed flowers against matte gray backgrounds. To produce the images, Hu uses high-voltage capacitors to create electrical currents that run through the pink and maroon roses, showcasing the power of electricity in all its beauty and danger.

The photo series was inspired by a previous project Hu created in 2014, called Flirt, which introduced cold light to various objects to manipulate viewers’ perception without using digital software. “I then began to study the high-voltage arc and made a high-voltage capacitor which can instantaneously penetrate through the air,” says Hu. “The principle is similar to that of the electric baton, but much stronger.”

The research behind The Tentacles took Hu over a year. He worked with various technicians to try different types of electric discharge devices that would exert the right amount of electrical flow to be captured by his camera. In this experimental phase, Hu used dozens of roses and took hundreds of photographs before finding the right images and settings for his final collection. “My studio is therefore filled with the unpleasant smell of rotten flowers, just like a morgue,” says the artist.

Hu’s work illustrates the aesthetic beauty and diversity of physical forms; the softness and stillness of the spongy rose petals in comparison to the dangerous allure of the electrical spark. “The moment of discharge is wonderful and sexy, but it can also be a cold-blooded tool for torture and execution,” he explains. Hu’s combination of materials illustrate the impermanence of natural plant matter, much like the fragile nature of the human body when exposed to lightning. “The flowers in full bloom remind me of my own fragility and powerlessness,” says Hu.

In comparison to manipulating photographs with software such as Photoshop, the time, precision and research in Hu’s work gives the subjects in his images more weight, their electricity more tangible. You can see more of Hu’s photographs on A+ Contemporary’s website.

 

 



Art

Miniature Power Line Towers Sprout from the Bristles of Toothbrushes by Takahiro Iwasaki

April 17, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki (previously) works with the finest bristles of toothbrushes and brooms to construct architectural structures as part of his ongoing series titled Out of Disorder (Brushes of World). Inspired by the industrial history of Japan, Iwasaki builds fragile radio towers, power lines, and other buildings by gluing tiny cut piece of brush filament cut from the objects open which they rest. The artist recently exhibited with URANO Gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2017, and you can see more of his miniature works on Artsy and Ocula Magazine.

 

 



Design History

The Timeless Beauty of Vintage Aerolux Light Bulbs Containing Floral Filaments

December 6, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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)

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Dan Flavin, Roses. Aerolux Flowerlite light bulb, ceramic flower pot, cord and light switch. 8 1/2 x 5 1/4″ (21.6 x 13.3 cm). Courtesy MoMA.

 

 



Photography

A Sea of Glistening Solar Mirrors Photographed at the Nevada SolarReserve by Reuben Wu

September 2, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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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.

One of Wu’s previous series “Lux Noctis” recently won a grand prize in Photo District News’ The Great Outdoors Photo Contest. You can see more of Wu’s natural and manmade landscapes on his Instagram and Facebook.

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Design Science

This Portable Salt-Powered Lamp Stays Illuminated for 8 Hours on a Glass of Seawater

July 27, 2015

Johnny Waldman

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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)

 

 



Photography Science

Tesla Sparks and Miniature Thunderstorms Photographed by Marc Simon Frei

June 18, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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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)

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Design Science

How to Build the World’s Simplest Electric Train

December 1, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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The AmazingScience YouTube channel demonstrates how to build a ridiculously simple electric “train” with the help of a few magnets, a battery, and a copper coil. You can also use the same materials to build a little spinning motor-like contraption. (via Twisted Sifter)