It’s still the subject of (extensive) debate whether the electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) produced by appliances, cell phones and high-voltage wires contribute to human illness and cancer. For an academic overview, check out theĀ  Human Radiation Effects Group, by Professor Denis Henshaw of the University of Bristol. For a visual illustration, look no further than FIELD by artist Richard Box. It’s a grid of fluorescent light bulbs planted into the ground beneath a series of power lines. When the bulbs glow, it’s not because of a series of buried wires, or a battery– they light up using the ghost power radiating from the wires overhead.

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The luminous power of the installation is powered by the weather and passing humans– either of which can make a series of bulbs flicker or power out– but otherwise the bulbs give off a steady glow, come sunset. Planted in the field are a total of 1,301 ready-made fluorescent bulbs. Artist Box came up with the idea for the installation after a conversation with a friend who played with such bulbs under power lines as a kid and found that the tubes lit up like light sabres.

The effect is other-worldly, almost post-apocalyptic. It also leaves one wondering: what kind of effect could the power to light 1,301 bulbs have on my body? Which is the point: Box created the installation as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Bristol’s Physics department, where he worked together with Henshaw. Maybe the fields cause leukemia; or maybe they don’t, but these men are working to shed light on the possible effects that radiation might have on humans.

+ Richard Box

+ Human Radiation Effects Group

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