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Light Painting The Electromagnetic Field

Interaction designer Luke Sturgeon visualizes the immaterial into ethereal and ghostly shapes.
May 8, 2013, 12:11pm

We're surrounded by things we can't see—and I'm not talking an invisible Kevin Bacon out to terrorise innocent people. I'm talking magnetic fields. A few week's ago we detailed how Carsten Nicolai's new work crt mgn gave the invisible form by using cathode ray TVs and magnets to visualize the magnetic field. Interaction designer Luke Sturgeon and Shamik Ray have also been visualizing what's unseen by human eyes.

In a recent project the pair decided to make visible the electromagnetic field (EMF) that surrounds many of the devices we use in our daily lives. To do this they used long exposure photography and stop-frame animation to produce light paintings that show the EMFs that surrounds laptops and a old school tape deck.

"Through a series of experiments in photographic and lighting techniques followed by hacking up an Android phone to act as an EMF indicator and then coding our own app in Processing we were able to visualize how these fields change over objects." Sturgeon says.

You can check out the results in the video above and in the pics of electrically-charged, colorful apparitions below.


Sturgeon and Ray created these on the Experimental Imaging CIID course run by visiting faculty Timo Arnall from BERG and Matt Cottam from Tellart.

Images courtesy of Luke Sturgeon.

And if you haven't seen it, you can check out Nicolai's crt mgn below…