EMF: Richard Box's Graphic Demonstrations


Peter Dibdin

It is always a controversial subject here. Are EMFs harmful? Are WiFi routers and cellphones frying our brains? While the scientific consensus in North America suggests we need not worry, the art of Richard Box gives us serious pause.

Box takes several thousand fluorescent tubes and "plants" them under power lines. "The piece is simple yet spectacular, making visible what would otherwise go unnoticed. The FIELD of tubes will flicker in to life across the hillside as the early evening light fades. The performance each evening is hard to anticipate as the daily operation of the electricity supply will differ and is always dependent on the weather."
This is your neon brain on EMF.

From the Guardian: The 1301 fluorescent tubes are powered only by the electric fields generated by overhead powerlines.
Richard Box, artist-in-residence at Bristol University’s physics department, got the idea for the installation after a chance conversation with a friend. ‘He was telling me he used to play with a fluorescent tube under the pylons by his house,’ says Box. ‘He said it lit up like a light sabre.’
Box decided to see if he could fill a field with tubes lit by powerlines. After a few weeks hunting for a site, he found a field, slipped the local farmer £200 and planted 3,600 square metres with tubes collected from hospitals.

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.’’


Stuart Bunce

Well, he may not have done it to draw attention to the dangers, but my first thought was that if it can excite those mercury molecules at that distance to that degree, it probably isn't smart to put your brain anywhere near it. Wow. ::Richard Box, via ::Tropolism and ::Pruned

See TreeHugger on EMF:

Electrical Smog: More on "Frequency Pollution"

A university without wifi
Let The Power Be With Us: Glow-Tubes Map EMF Exposure

and for fun,

Spray-on Defense from WiFi and Cellphones
New Study Proves EMF Affects Living Things, Discovers Electro-bonsai Effect