Departures and Arrivals



2017/10/21 › 2017/10/21
Nyberg, Stina

“Modern science says: The sun is the past, the earth is the present, the moon is the future. From an incandescent mass we have originated, and into a frozen mass we shall turn. Merciless is the law of nature, and rapidly and irresistibly we are drawn to our doom. (…) Meanwhile the cheering lights of science and art, ever increasing in intensity, illuminate our path, and the marvels they disclose, and the enjoyments they offer, make us measurably forgetful of the gloomy future.” (Nikola Tesla “The problem of increasing human energy” 1900).

The Tesla project walks in the footsteps of the genius and madman Nikola Tesla. In the end of the 19th century, the Serbian-American inventor Tesla invented several of our centuries important innovations in electricity and communication. He also invented the tesla coil, an electrical resonant transformer circuit used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Basically, a device that produces lightning bolts that can be used for entertainment in live electricity shows.

The Tesla project departs from the 19th century phenomena of touring electricity shows. At a time when electricity was still a scientific novelty it was displayed in public performances as acts of magic. Today, a contemporary heir to the electricity magic show is the tesla coil performance, making use of the spectacular sound and light effects produced by the coil, but often wise performed in hyper-masculinized, technique-masturbatory and rock’n’roll-fetishistic shows.

The Tesla project is a feminist take on the tesla coil show. It departs from an interest in a choreography of movement, sound and objects on equal grounds – where both the live performer, the lights, technique and soundscape act as main protagonists. It will create an alternative to the existing macho-spectacular tesla coil shows, pairing effective technical innovations with a long-term research on science and magic.

The Tesla project returns to a time when the artist and scientist believed in transforming the forces of nature into the forces that propel society, harnessing natural energy for crafting nearly magical devices.

During autumn 2016 a research with the archivist Sandra Linnell took a look at the gendered history of electricity, the cult of the genius and the potential of magic.