The immersive film 'Depth of Discharge' 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 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.
Depth Of Discharge
4K, 2 or 4 channel sound composition
Directed by: Marjolijn Dijkman
Sound composition by: Pom Bouvier-b.
Editing by: Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Assistant editing: Léo Ghysels
Colour grading: Miléna Trivier
Electro-technician: Lukas Pol
Produced in the framework of: On-Trade-Off
Supported by: Mondriaan Fund
'Depth of Discharge' part of a 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 civilisation, 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.
"Depth of Discharge is viewed in a black box, the projection is the only form of light and delivers sequences of energetic interactions, which create a visual spectacle in thousands of shades of monochromatic blue. The frequency of the sound and image create a mesmerizing experience, giving the feeling that both the frequencies of the brain and the film are synchronized into one. The scientific use of the term Depth of Discharge is associated with the life of a battery. The life of the battery is measured by its ability to recharge.
Depth of Discharge was created by high voltage photography where the electricity and electrified objects became the protagonists and the discharge the drama. In Dijkman’s black out studio, she documents a process of Corona Discharge, which creates a glowing aura caused by ionization and an electrical disturbance caused by contact with air. The discharge is captured through a touch screen, which originates from smartphones and other flatscreens. The film depicts modern empires based on minerals’ energy economies. The symbols in the film are taken from a table of standard electrical units and reveal the metaphors associated with utopia and electrical dystopia. Concepts related to the electric sign language indicate the ideals that the symbols represent beyond their technical meaning." - fragment from 'The Lightnings Slayers' by Galit Eilat, 2021