Lightning & Wood, within the context of ‘Frankenstein’ and my work


(images taken from; & respectively)

Whilst waiting for the bus the other day, I came to the realisation that there is a certain duality within my work; as I am attempting to imbue ‘life’ into dead materials, and have started utilising the remains of Trees as my ‘corpses’ that I ‘re-animate’. The duality stems from the most pivotal point of ‘Frankenstein’, when Victor Frankenstein witnesses the destruction of a tree outside his home by lightning;

‘As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak, which stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as the dazzling light vanished the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained by a blasted stump. When we visited it the next morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular manner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin ribands of wood. I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed.’

A tree’s branch extends to wards the sky, therefore making it a natural ‘lightning rod’ for electricity to strike during a storm. Therefore the lightning bolt, and the branch, are two polar opposites. the lightning is instantaneous, yet the tree grows slowly; one grows out of the earth, and the other, out of the sky. If one were to turn the tree upside down, it ‘becomes’ the lightning bolt (in form). This would allow me to add another layer to the work’s concepts; as it nods towards the eternal recurrence of life, death and rebirth. The tree grows, and is then destroyed; but due to the intense heat provided by the lightning strike, the ash re-fertilises the soil, continuing the cycle anew. It is also widely believed, that through the theory of ‘galvanism’, one can revive the dead. Therefore, through the re-animation of the dead wood, I have taken on the role of the lightning bolt, providing new life for a deceased object. This can also be seen when considering Frankenstein’s other title ‘the modern Prometheus’, who utilises the power of a God to transcend to the mantle of the creator. Prometheus succeeds, and is tortured for all eternity; Frankenstein succeeds but is tortured by his creation, until he eventually succumbs to the grasp of death. Interestingly, the lightning ‘Bolt’ is actually just a blast of heat that supercharges the environment around it producing the ‘light’ that the strike is so famous for, and making it visible. This relates to the idea that Prometheus did indeed bring ‘fire’ to the humans, and the lightning, through it’s electrical and fiery properties, provides life and destruction. I am planning to create a crystallised branch that resembles this mythological symbol of life and death, by the utilisation of the dead matter of the Tree, and the life giving properties of the crystals, which showcase the energy passing out of the object, as well as being a pure white, reflecting the ‘enlightening’ of the thunderous blast.


The first of the branches that I am Binding for crystalisation


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