25 July 2019 Carlo Timmerman

In 1891 the genius inventor Nikola Tesla tamed lightning with his Tesla coil, a device that renders electricity visible. Glasgow-based artist Robbie Thomson has harnessed the sonic capabilities of the Tesla coil in a work as arresting as the scent of burning ozone and as lively as electricity itself. By synthesising the ever-changing sonic geometries of the apparatus to produce distorted tones and percussive stabs, XFRMR offers a glimpse into the subatomic relationships that govern the universe. Housed in an imposing steel Faraday cage and accompanied by audio-reactive projections, this work is a physical assault on the senses.

It’s a thrilling moment; as ever, the boldest sonic and visual gestures are the most meaningful.” (The Wire)

Artist Statement

Making music with a Tesla Coil is a truly direct way of synthesising sound with electricity. In XFRMR the coil becomes an acoustic instrument that uses the raw organic energy of plasma to create distorted tones and harsh percussive stabs in a fragmented composition of rough edged techno and pulsating interstellar waveforms. Inspired by a desire to visualise the electro-magnetic forces and fractal patterns present in nature, this work references themes of solar physics and the brutalism of industrial power generation. The technology, based on Nikola Tesla’s 1891 design was originally developed for long range power transmission and has become an iconic symbol for utopian ideals of clean energy. XFRMR presents this vision as spectacle but also invites the audience to reflect on the universal demands we put on the planet and our increasing consumption of electricity. The steel Faraday cage surrounding the coil doubles as a shield for radio frequency interference and as a canvas for audio-reactive wireframe visuals that enhance the angular sonic textures. For me, XFRMR sits between a meditative appreciation of physical phenomena and a dance with visceral primal forces.

9 August
21:30 – 22:30
23:00 – 00:00



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