Weather and Art: Hiroshi Sugimoto

Lightning, nature’s most powerful static electrical shock, has sparked human curiosity throughout history. Recently, it helped to inspire the creation of “Lightning Fields”, a series of unique photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto, a contemporary Japanese artist.

To create this body of work, Sugimoto used a 400,000-volt Van de Graff generator to apply an electric shock directly to a large sheet of film.  The resulting images show the flow of electricity with its tree-like branching discharges. The pattern of each image differs based on the strength of the charge and the path taken by the electrical current.

The outlines produced in these experimental photographs are very similar to the Lichtenberg Figures that often appear on objects and people after they have been struck by lightning.

Lightning Field 128, 2009.

Image Credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.