HEADLANDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS, SAUSALITO, CALIFORNIA 1989/90
In the cold barracks room of Building 945, the space is tinted blue using gel material covering each window. A table is hung from the ceiling with steel cable, its legs dangling a few inches from the floor. Atop the table is an “Edison” brand heater. It’s thermal wire glows red in contrast to the surrounding blue light. A chair is bolted to the floor. It is just close enough to feel the heat on the front of the face, far enough away to feel the cool air on the ears. The heater is connected to a microphone, amplifier and speaker system. The amplified sound of the thermal wire humming and the metal case of the heater resonating fills the space with an eerie sense of voices that “sing” differentially to the thermostat’s application of electricity and the expansion and contraction of the metal case. As one walks closer to the heater, the pitch of the sound changes because the body reflects back heat to the reactive thermostat. One begins to sense that the heater is like a mouth and the electrical cords are vocal chords connected to the power grid. Within this grid is the history of Edison and Tesla battling for dominance and recognition.