Field, was inspired by childhood stories from a friend who played underneath, overhead power-lines in his back garden. These stories came to mind as I was reading research into human radiation effects at Bristol University physics department, where I was Artist in Residence for 2003, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
The installation Field was created by planting 1,301, reclaimed, 58 watt fluorescent lamps, 100 millimeter into the earth, equidistant from their neighbours, covering an area of 3,600 square metres underneath a 440 kilovolt overhead power line, at Tormarton, Gloucestershire, UK. Becoming visible at dusk, the electromagnetic field from the power cables above lit the lamps. Field used an everyday glass object to create a highly interactive artwork that was successful on many different levels. The piece drew attention to the presence of the electromagnetic field in a dramatic way, making the invisible visible. The grid layout of the lamps plotted the electromagnetic pollution emanating from the overhead power cables.
By being placed at the same height and equidistant from their neighbours it meant they all had an equal chance of lighting. People’s proximity to the lamps affected the way that they lit. By standing taller than the planted lamp your head effectively stole its electromagnetic energy. The different experiments that visitors devised and reported back to me are to numerous to list here. Over 4,000 people visited the installation while it was on, leaving with a heightened awareness of the electromagnetic fields present in our environment.
Richard Box (*1969) lives in Bristol, England.