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exhibiting artists

ARTIST: William J. Beaty

TITLE: Faradic Revolution

artist's conceptual diagram of the piece

MATERIALS: Wood structure, acrylic sheets, tesla coils, DC motor, gas-discharge tubes, DC power supply.


DATE: 2007

DESCRIPTION: The disks spin fast, but the glowing lines move only slowly. One black 4-ft disk rotates continuously via a motor hub. This disk has numerous long narrow CCFL tubes mounted on its surface and forming radial glowing lines. A second 4-ft disk is mounted in front of the first one upon horizontal rails. The second disk is opaque black with transparent radial lines, and can be spun by the gallery visitor as well as slid from side to side. Depending on which way they spin, the two disks create a dynamically moving pattern of curved "field lines" around two attracting or repelling poles. If both disks spin at the same rate, this pattern's motion halts.

STATEMENT: This work touches on the interaction of discovery and ridicule, the mutual annihilation of creativity with scoffing, and it symbolizes a major branch point in our space-time world-line. For his proposing that invisible electric and magnetic fields exist, Michael Faraday drew scorn and derision at the hands of the scientific community of the time. And then he died. Yet his idea escaped suppression by hostile disbelief. Very fortunately James Clerk Maxwell wrote an extensive report which convinced the rest of the world to take Faraday's bizarre idea seriously. This soon led to electrical engineering, radio, and Einstein's relativity. Yet by such a narrow margin Faraday's idea could have been easily lost; that road not taken. Consider how many other ideas as important as Faraday's were lost; were never supported, and were swallowed and cancelled out by active forces of anti-creativity, leaving no trace.

William Beaty
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
beaty AT


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