A Field of Light Sabers, Powered By Ambient Electricity
Apr 10, 2009 16:46
You are looking at 1301 fluorescent bulbs planted in an English farm, powered entirely by electrical fields generated by the power lines that float in curves over the top of this field.
The installation is called simply FIELD. Five years ago, FIELD creator Richard Box was an artist in residence in the physics department at Bristol University, and he got the idea to plant his fluorescent crop after hearing a colleague describe playing light saber games with a fluorescent tube beneath power lines in his backyard. So he bribed a local farmer into letting him set up this extraordinary scene, to recreate the light saber game times a thousand.
A fluorescent tube glows when an electrical voltage is set up across it. The electric field set up inside the tube excites atoms of mercury gas, making them emit ultraviolet light. This invisible light strikes the phosphor coating on the glass tube, making it glow. Because powerlines are typically 400,000 volts, and Earth is at an electrical potential voltage of zero volts, pylons create electric fields between the cables they carry and the ground.
Box denies that he aimed to draw attention to the potential dangers of powerlines, ‘For me, it was just the amazement of taking something that's invisible and making it visible,' he says. ‘When it worked, I thought: ‘This is amazing.''
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