Lichtenberg Figures

I came across Lichtenberg figures on the internet. These branching shapes are created by sending a high voltage charge through an insulating material. There are videos online about how to make them yourself with things like, a neon transformer, a nail, and a piece of wood. The voltage required to burn these autonomous patterns into wood is quite high, 6-12K (I think). A transformer will help you get that much electricity. People who have been struck by lightening or who have been close to where lightening has struck, often have these figures apear on their skin. This is thought to occur because the lightening current that passes through the skin ruptures the capillaries underneath, and in tern leaves the victim with a Lichtenberg figure. I think these natural patterns, that are easy enough to replicate, are well worth investigating for some work. Layered figures would look good I think, providing the material your burning into can stand that much abuse. Perhaps a relief on wood would also be quite pleasing. A relief would give an artist the opportunity to compose the figures creating a little order from these lightening shadows.

I went over to Douglas Whites studio last week and saw, behind the boxes of materials, a 6/7ft tall work of a Lichtenberg figure burnt onto some mdf attached to a black metal frame. This reminded me of my encounter with the figures on the internet. I wanted to see more from the piece. Especially as I can buy this (Bellow) for £100.


Douglas WhiteLichtenberg Figure II, 2010lichtenberg figure on mdf board51 x 181 x 5cm

Douglas WhiteLichtenberg Figure II, 2010lichtenberg figure on mdf board51 x 181 x 5cm

1-s2.0-S0305417907002987-gr2 060309lightning