Thinking Tech

'Electrifying' photographs of the 'primordial ooze'

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Acclaimed photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto's shots of manmade electricity are as lifelike as they are deathly. You'll know what I mean when you see them.

Photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Lightening Fields" photographs of electricity are positively stunning. The Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco where Sugimoto exhibited them last year kindly gave me permission to reproduce five of them below.

Model of a Van de Graaf generator. credit: Wikipedia

I stumbled across them at Wired.com where Jon Eilenberg describes how Sugimoto created the subjects of his novel and spectacular photos.

credit: Pulizterarts.org

"For his latest project, called Lightning Fields, the award-winning photographer traded optics for electricity. He wields a Van de Graaff generator to send up to 400,000 volts through film to a metal table. The resulting fractal branching, subtle feathering, and furry whorls call to mind vascular systems, geologic features, and trees."

Some strike me as eerie landscapes, especially the bottom one where two bolts of electricity resemble lifeless trees atop a deathly landscape. These are remarkable photographs.  "Furry whorls" indeed!

Alas, the electricity he shot is man made by a Van de Graaf generator, but that was does not take away from their stark beauty. Wired has five more beneath a headline Japanese Photographer Bends Electricity to His Will." They've been Retweeted 453 times!

“I see the spark of life itself, the lightning that struck the primordial ooze,” Sugimoto says in the Wired article.

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Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure