The immersive film Depth of Discharge (2021) translates the seductive, captivating magic of 18th century enlightenment demonstrations into an abstract exploration of the roots of the nine different units used to measure electricity. The film is part of Dijkman’s larger research and body of works that explore how electricity as natural science has been linked since the 18th century to Enlightenment ideals.
Although people have been fascinated by electricity since early civilization, the scientific properties of electricity only began to be properly understood in Europe during the Enlightenment. Most electricians in that period were considered entertainers, similar to magicians, and the public electrical demonstrations did not explain the science, but rather turned the phenomena into spectacular events. Depth of Discharge returns to this moment in time when electricity was still made visible, in contrast to today where most electrical processes are hidden from the eye and more or less taken for granted.
The film is made with a high voltage electro-photography technique in which the artist uses a discharge plate made from a tin-coated sheet, the same material as used in touch screen devices. The sound composition is composed with recordings of the electric discharge on different frequencies. The film features electrified objects associated with technology and energy use, including minerals with lithium, coal, circuit boards, copper wires and personal devices. By making microscopic electric interactions visible, electricity becomes an actor, adopting an almost animistic character.
Marjolijn Dijkman (b. 1978, NL) lives and works in Brussels (BE) & Saint-Mihiel (FR). Her practice is research-based and multi-disciplinary including film, photography, sculpture and installation. She focuses on the points where culture intersects with other fields of enquiry. The works themselves can be seen as a form of speculative fiction; partly based on facts and research but often brought into the realm of the imagination.
The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.