Science artist to build giant phone charger powered by 800 pieces of fruit and vegetable

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 July 2014

A highly-charged, wholesome work of art is the brainchild of a science artist working in a shopping centre

A photo of two men building an electrical circuit based on small potatoes on a floor
Early experiments in organic energy have led to artist Caleb Charland’s creation of a huge phone charger, made using 800 pieces of fruit and vegetables and set to be unveiled in London’s Westfield shopping centre next week.

Charland’s large-scale installation, forged from nails and wire threaded through the groceries, is part of Back to Light, a project inspired by the thoughts of scientist Michael Faraday, who once claimed that “nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature”.

“It expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery,” Charland says of the 20-foot wide charger, made for a Lumia device in a commission by technology giants Microsoft and the Carphone Warehouse.

“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.”

A hand-built circuit allows an electrical current, equating to an average of 20mA and six volts, to flow through the structure.

  • Runs July 24 2014, 9.30am-5pm.

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