Marina Abramovic «Tesla Ball» 2003.
In Count On Us (Tesla) Marina Abramovic holds what looks like an office-grade fluorescent light-stick to a sci-fi Tesla coil, an image that is part Planetarium laser light show and part 1930’s Frankenstein. In a work pregnant with political imagery, Count On Us (Tesla) is suddenly giving us something else—science and technology, displayed as art, the former almost 'charging up' the latter.
Nicola Tesla, 'Master of Lightning,' the man who put the AC in the DC, was a Serbian engineer who moved to New York at the age of 28, where he died, penniless and alone, in 1943. Lauded for the alternating current and the 'Tesla coil', a transformer for receiving and generating radio waves that would be used in radio and television communications, Tesla was one of those fabled visionaries who produces both world-changing inventions and a whole lot of crazy crap. He was obsessed with the idea that electricity could be transmitted wirelessly and looked forward to a world system created and connected by wireless technology. He described a means of tapping the sun's energy with an antenna, thought that the weather could be controlled with electrical energy, and gave Mark Twain spontaneous diarrhea with his ‘healing machine’. He had to prove to Edison that alternating currents were safe, only to be accused later of having contributing to the invention of the electric chair, for which he has achieved a near-cult status.
Tesla had strongly pacifist views and sought throughout his life to develop a technological means of making war impossible. In the 1930s he was working on a charged-particle ray The New York Times referred to as a Death Beam, which would be so powerful as to “bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles. Should every country have one of these ‘peace beams’, war would prove impossible. Despite some funding from the USSR, Tesla’s peace beam idea never came to pass, though his dream of wireless technologies is becoming more real all the time.
«War cannot be avoided until the physical cause for its recurrence is removed and this, in the last analysis, is the vast extent of the planet on which we live. Only through annihilation of distance in every respect, as the conveyance of intelligence, transport of passengers and supplies and transmission of energy will conditions be brought about some day, insuring permanency of friendly relations. What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth. Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment.» ~ Nicholas Tesla.
Add a little dose of ‘transgression through pain’ and it’s easy to see why Marina Abramovic is interested in Tesla. Abramovic, like Tesla, not only wants to change the world but seeks to do so through transcending the political altogether. She has often claimed in interviews that she feels herself to be a bridge between the East and the West. Abramovic has her own version of the complete annihilation of distance. ~ Stefany Anne Golberg.