LIGHTEATER, a metaphysical exploration of light featuring neon bender Thomas Wendler and the thoughts of light artist James Turrell. This is a personal project born out of my mild obsession for neon - the 5th most abundant gas in the universe. An element created in stars. An inert gas that when electrified reveals itself in the form of seemingly physical light.
All neon lamps are handmade. It's a special craft that involves heating and blowing glass into shape - the instrument, or vessel, is then filled with the appropriate noble gas (neon, xenon, argon, etc.). The trapped gas is then electrified -- With this film I wanted to get as close as possible to the process and show it in an abstracted way, building a bridge to James Turrell’s expressions on light- from the physics of it to the mystics of it.
Archive footage courtesy of NASA & Prelinger Archives.
Thanks to Thomas Wendler, Vara Kane, Sigi Gugger, Ute Michaelsen, Norma Archer, Chad Weuve.
This film is not for profit. I do not own the rights to the voice of James Turrell. The voice is an excerpt from the 2013 interview on the Charlie Rose show. Those interested, you can view the show here: charlierose.com/videos/17416
And If you've been following the blog I’ve been updating or adding new editions from the Intro to Plasma Series, pulling out sections of the video podcast, expanding, and adding better visuals all repackaged into mini presentations for quick and easy access.
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American artist Paul Seide has developed a unique type of glass sculpture which utilizes scientific and electronic technology along with a highly developed artistic sense. His famous neon sculptures are activated by transmitted radio signals, which eliminates the need for messy and cumbersome electrodes. This allows him more freedom to investigate a greater range of illuminated shapes. Seide developed this technology after many years of experimentation. With his pioneering work in the field of neon he follows in the footsteps of his father, Charles, a pioneer in the development of acrylic paint.
Seide mastered his craft at the Egani Neon Glassblowing School in the Harlem section of Manhattan. The school was established in 1930. In its heyday it had been known as "the school for neon." By the time Seide enrolled the school was getting ready to close its doors. He was in fact, the last student in the facility, the only student in the class. Seide says "lt was me and 50 empty benches!"
I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Most of the time when I find readings, articles, and papers, I’m often sharing and discussing them with my contemporaries. While we gain some insight, I often feel like everyone else could benefit from hearing what we have to say. One of the leads from this discussion has been to reach out to my network for insight on those early neon and blown glass works from Dale Chihuley and Jamie Carpenter, and have an expanded discussion about them.
Thank you Zach Layhew for the conversation and lending a voice to this reading, you’ll likely hear from him and others in future readings, reactions, and discussion on Taming Lightning. So if have any readings,news, papers, and or past topics you’d like to expand on please let me know.
I've got various projects in mind, but I'd like to hear from you which you like to hear or see first. There are 3 projects listed, where you select your level of interest, and an extra box to submit your own requests. Please fill out the survey at the link below.
Additionally I’d like to thank Beverly Copeland of Glass Focus for her time providing some insight on the newsletter and what she is upto today.
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As always Be Safe, Be Healthy, and Be Strong, and I’ll See you next time.
-Percy Echols II, Taming Lightning
Welcome to Taming Lightning, I'm Percy Echols II. I'm the creator and host of Taming Lightning, as well as the emerging plasma tech at Pittsburgh Glass Center, where I'm researching and developing a space to explore Plasma and Neon Light as an Artist Medium.