Alan Gibb's Eclectic, Electric Art


14 Responses to “Alan Gibb's Eclectic, Electric Art”

  1. bigalba says:

    I was lucky enough to photograph Electrum over the course of two evenings in August 2008 as part of a project out of Zagreb, Croatia exploring the work of Nikola Tesla ( and attach some links to the shots below. I can definitely say that Electrum is in no way wimpy. The noise it makes fills the entire bay with a high pitched buzz sawing drone each time it fires and the safe distance is around fifty foot from the base. It is an impressive and scary sight, especially manoeuvring in close for some detail shots through a long lens.
    These photographs are all long exposures and misrepresent the actual single bolt of lighting it generates which constantly shifts and plays over the surface of the Faraday cage. They do though reveal some surprising and delicate structures and ribbons of energy.
    I saw the lighting make a ground strike once and there’s plenty of evidence of this in the fried vegetation surrounding the tower.
    On the second night of shooting, New Zealand artist Peter Roche interacted with the lightning using fluorescent tubes, throwing and smashing these against the tower and watching them light and glow as they arced through the electromagnetic field it generates.

    Electrum I
    Electrum fires at night over the bay at Kaukapakapa, North Island, New Zealand.

    Electrum II
    Portrait of Electrum firing at night.

    Electrum III
    Details of the delicate ribbons of lightning playing over the surface of the spherical Faraday cage in the dusk.

    Electrum IV
    Details of the delicate ribbons of lightning playing over the surface of the spherical Faraday cage as night falls.

    Examples of work in progress from Mechanical Figures, an experimental multimedia and film project inspired by the work of Nikola Tesla

  2. Anonymous says:

    Error in the article:

    The Aquada does 100 & 30 Mph, not kph

  3. Man On Pink Corner says:

    #5 MATTW: True, the shots on look much better. Any large coil should be able to hit the ground with its discharges, and that puppy delivers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    He didn’t just do the Aquada, don’t forget the Humdinga and the Quadski.

    Shame they were so expensive and also shame they used the KV6 Rover Engine in the Aquada, they could’ve used a better more powerful unit I’m sure. However the V8 in the Humdinga was a bit better and faster in the water too.

    Shame he never managed to get the 3.2 quattro Audi TT modified to amphibious that he was going to do!

    Does he have any new ventures like those?

  5. GuidoDavid says:

    Sounds a tiny bit like John Varley’s idea of climatic art in the Nine World series.

  6. Marchhare says:

    “Alan Gibbs resides in London…He also collects military hardware including tanks and APVs”

    I wonder if he hangs with Stephen Morris…

  7. Adam H says:

    I thought it was the skin effect that protected people in the cage from the coil’s electricity.
    Faraday effect is for electromagnetic radiation, right?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Alan Gibbs resides in London, but maintains the farm for home visits. He also collects military hardware including tanks and APVs and famously almost beheaded himself parking a tank in the garage. His experiences with jet-skis are similar. He was the author of the 1998 ‘Gibbs report’ which recommended restructuring the NZ Public Health System mainly by selling hospital assets and leasing them back – these reforms were never adopted but remain a conceptual cornerstone of neo-libertarianism in New Zealand.

  9. Man On Pink Corner says:

    That’s actually a *really* wimpy Tesla coil, in terms of volts per linear foot. He needs to either feed it more power or hire an engineer who can optimize it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is the most amazing application of a tesla coil I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. It’s hard to tell from this video but the tesla coils are the ones making the music, they are not merely synced with it.

  11. mattw says:

    I saw this coil fire at Hunters Point back in ’97 (the week that picture was taken) both at 2/3 and full power. It definitely wasn’t wimpy.

    I still think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

  12. nemryn says:

    That ‘Horizons’ sculpture looks more like a cartoon drawing of a sculpture here. What’s up with that?

  13. wastrel says:

    Nemryn, it’s a sculpture that’s a cartoon drawing, blown up and freestanding. From the photo it appears to be a 2d standing frame, mostly empty space, sketching out that cartoony drawing of a sheet of fabric. It’s a fun piece.

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