NEWS! 200% FUNDING REACHED 12/15! Coffee-Lightning prints will be added to all rewards! New Stretch Goal Announced! (see below)
NEWS: F295.org has sponsored this project with a large donation of Kodak Portra 400 Film!
NEWS: Hackaday.com has written a wonderful review of this project and it's creator's other work!
NEWS! This Project's Founder was selected to be Artist In Residence at Autodesk's amazing and highly competitive Pier-9 Advanced Digital Fabrication Workshop!
Electrified Flowers of Hawaii is a series of exquisitely detailed photographs of exotic plants representing Hawaii’s incredible biodiversity, being illuminated with direct lightning-strikes. In this technique, Luminous electrical blossoms and tendrils sprout from plants, and are recorded on the highest fidelity large format analog film.
The technique I’ve developed produces images whose clarity and detail far exceed all prior examples of kirlian photography known to me. It is a significant improvement over kirlian photography in two major ways. First, Kirlian photographs are made as contact prints, so any non-flat features of the subject are unavoidably blurred. Second, in kirlian photography, only subjects smaller than the film size can be photographed, and so kirlian photographs invariably feature small leaves, coins, fingerprints, and keys.
I have no such limits. I will be photographing large foot-wide leaves and small, delicate, flowers. I’m also using a special lightning machine, of my own construction, which delivers blinding arcs at a quarter-million volts. The lightning is so loud, I need to wear hearing protection and sunglasses.
I’ve been making these photos for several years now, and have had several gallery shows and publications. The technique is well established.
I’m appealing to crowd funding because making photographs this way is extremely expensive. Each exposure of large format film costs nine or ten dollars - five dollars for one sheet of color film, and another five dollars to develop it. Scanning of negatives can cost another $5 to $10 each. I aim to make about one hundred exposures over two weeks-- about eight plants each night -- from which the best ten will be selected for the final series. That’s a thousand dollars in film and development alone before making prints.
Additional costs include shipping high voltage equipment, which the TSA could rightly be expected to find too interesting, and renting a car for two weeks to transport this equipment in.
You’ll note that I’ve not included my lodging, food, or airfare. That is to say, this is *NOT* a plea for a paid vacation, and I’m investing a lot of my own resources to make it happen, too. I’m going to work *very* hard to give you something unique and truly awesome. My principal goal is to make this unique project happen, and to share with you some of the first prints made with a gorgeous new technique, of some of the most exotic plants in the world.
This project builds towards something larger.
I should mention the larger context of this work. A long range goal, outside the scope of this campaign, but towards which it builds, is to author a definitive book detailing the methods, results, and theory of all of the various techniques of high voltage photography. Nothing like this exists to my satisfaction. In that void, the history and literature of kirlian photography is rampant with pseudoscience, mystics, and opportunistic marketers. The book I’m writing answers with the most cohesive synthesis of glorious imagery, circuit diagrams, and the most grounded discussion of the real mechanisms and physics at play.
I am pleased to be joined in this work by the distinguished astrophysicist and radio astronomer, Dr. Jeff Peterson of Carnegie Mellon University, who has agreed to act in the capacity of scientific advisor. You can be sure that this will be a serious endeavor which will have a most grounded and real narrative. I aim to satisfy the most thorough and wide-ranging curiosities.
Thanks so much for your support. I look forward to providing you with a truly interesting print to hang on your wall! There are a variety of reward levels, ranging from postcards to museum quality 20x24” prints, and so I hope that nomatter what your means, if you like these photographs, you can have one.
STRETCH GOAL #1 HAS BEEN MET!
Thanks everyone for helping me achieve 100% funding on the third day of this 10 day campaign, and 200% on it's 9th day! As a result, stretch goal #1 will be added to everybody's rewards: an additional print of the COFFEE plant acting as the substrate of high voltage breakdown.
STRETCH GOAL #2 ANNOUNCED!
If this project reaches $5000, I will include a recording of me playing cello to every reward. I'm a semi-professional cellist and have played for most of my life. Here's recording of a live improvisation I made in October...
I am also excitedly beginning to think about potential cross-overs from this project to the work I'll be doing as an Artist in Residence at Pier 9, following.
Thanks again, I feel great right now, knowing that there are so many people who find this as interesting as I do!
Risks and challenges
Safety - high voltage: I've a long history of working with this technique and am pleased to say I have never had a safety-lapse resulting in an electric shock. I will continue my scrupulous adherence to safety protocols in the field. I have experience with high voltage professionally, working on the Peace Canyon Dam's massive Hydroelectric generator's transmission line, operating at 400kV and 1,300 amps, 3-phase, and also as a prior operator of a 200kW research nuclear reactor.
Safety - theft / robbery: By necessity I will be traveling with exotic-looking camera gear, and perhaps the greatest setback would be if I were to experience robbery or theft in the course of this project. If the project is funded I will be able to safeguard against this better, by renting a car whose trunk I can secure materials in. The alternative may be to transport gear in a bicycle trailer.
Weather - I require at least momentarily dry weather, to create and apply voltages up to 250,000 volts. Hawaii gets regular rain but by being there for more than two weeks I trust that I will have at least several windows of opportunity to work.
Traveling with undeveloped negatives - I will either develop my negatives on the island, or use a lead-lined pouch to protect my negatives from increased cosmic background radiation at high altitude during the flight, and from careless TSA agents at the airport.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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