Seawater/carbon/zinc battery, 2008
materials ~ Drinking glasses, Seawater, Pencil lead, Used Zinc etching plates, Mahogany table, LEDs, Connecting cables
method ~ The piece was installed in a small box room that only had space for an audience of one or two. The low level light meant that it took a minute before the shadows and details were fully revealed to ones eyes.
The work was inspired by research into the experiments of electrical pioneers from Galvani & Volta to Faraday and Tesla, the sculptural quality of their research equipment and the theatrical quality of some public demonstrations. The work also sought to draw parallels between this new magic of electricity and 19th century esoteric exploration of hidden energies; table-turning seances, vitalism, animism and odic force. Believers in Odic force said that is visible in total darkness but that viewing it requires hours first spent in total darkness, and only very sensitive people have the ability to see it. Scientists and engineers such as Cromwell Varley were notable as much for their spiritualism as for their electrical research as they explored the hazy boundary between the invisible and visible and material and immaterial domains.