In describing his new body of work, “Back to Light,” artist Caleb Charland wrote, “My practice as an artist combines a scientific curiosity with a constructive approach to making pictures. I utilize everyday objects and fundamental forces to illustrate experiences of wonder.” Recently featured in the art and design blog Colossal, the scientific curiosity is electricity, and the everyday objects are household nails, fruits, and copper; combined, they allow Charland to create fascinating long-exposure photographs. Instead of using studio lighting or any electricity from an outlet, Charland created organic batteries out of fruit by placing nails inside them and wiring them together with copper. This seemingly lo-fi school-science method actually produces enough light from an attached light bulb for long-exposure photography – plenty for making Charland’s fruit still-life images.
Here’s how Charland describes it: “My current body of work, ‘Back to Light,’ expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources.”
Through his photographs, Charland hopes his photos convey the message of “the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.”
Charland also doesn’t do post-production. He says all his images are created in-camera, on a scanner, or in a darkroom, and nothing is created or added through digital means.
Click here to see more from the series.