Faraday’s Synaptic Gap
Faraday’s Synaptic Gap encompasses video, drawing, and a public sound work for headphones and walking across Waterloo Bridge, in addition to research and installation works, and interventions within a library catalogue system.
The project was the basis for an artist book and a solo exhibition that took place jointly at the National Poetry Library in the Southbank Centre and the Book Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London. The archive box of the project is accessible in the permanent collection of The Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division in Washington DC.
As the bridge is crossed between the north and south banks of the river, sound results from magnets affecting the left and right ears – as faint electrical signals attract and repel a coil of copper wire, which, in turn, moves a diaphragm: pushing air, and with it, sound waves into the ear canal.
Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith, an apprentice bookbinder, and a self-taught chemist and physicist who became director of the laboratory at the Royal Institution.
At high water, the 1,326 feet which separated the north and south banks, occupied his thoughts.
In the interval where the ears hear their apparatus
Two human ears milled from wood that was taken from the failed foundations of Waterloo Bridge after it was demolished in 1936. The ears were installed in the institutions situated at either end of the current, second incarnation of Waterloo Bridge. The left ear at the National Poetry Library in the Southbank Centre, and the right ear at the Book Library at The Courtauld Institute of Art, on the north bank of the Thames. Collection: The Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division, Washington DC
Approximate Total Thought The approximate distance between the pre and postsynaptic neurons, multiplied by a low estimate of the number of synapses in the cerebral cortex. A sum of space in the human brain where all thought theoretically takes place.
In 1832 Faraday conducted an experiment in which he suspended a length of copper wire across Waterloo Bridge. Each end of the wire was joined to a copper plate that was submerged in the River Thames below. In doing so, Faraday made a circuit comprising the wire, joined by a galvanometer and completed via the electrical conductivity of the river water. With this experiment Faraday hoped to observe the electricity generated as the river flowed between east and west across the Earth’s magnetic field.
Faraday’s Synaptic Gap, solo exhibition at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre and the Book Library, the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2015 – 2016
Faraday’s Synaptic Gap Archive Box
Collection: The Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division, Washington DC