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Experiments in Galvanism

"Experiments in Galvanism" (2003) is a work by Garnet Hertz. It was shown at DEAF07.

Experiments in Galvanism

Experiments in Galvanism

A miniature webserver is implanted in the body of a frog specimen, which is suspended in a clear glass container. Through an ethernet cable connected to the embedded webserver, remote viewers can trigger movement in either the right or left leg of the frog, thereby updating Luigi Galvani's original 1786 experiment causing the legs of a dead frog to twitch simply by touching muscles and nerves with metal.

The Italian physicist Luigi Galvani lent his name to the phenomenon we call galvanism: the generation of an electric current by means of a chemical reaction. In 1786, Galvani made a dead frog's muscles contract by touching them with a piece of metal. The public display of scientific tests and experiments that occurred in the 18th century can be regarded as a precursor of electronic art. The American artist Garnet Hertz explicitly relates his work to this idea and performed an update of Galvani's experiments called Experiments in Galvanism. Hertz implanted a minute web server in the body of a dead frog immersed in a liquid under glass. The web server was connected to the Internet by an ethernet cable. When the web server registered a hit, the frog's left or right leg would contract. More than just serving as tangible evidence that we can act from a distance (Experiments in Galvanism's interactive component is limited), this work is about connecting biological systems to technological ones: frog to Internet, nerves and muscles to electricity and cables. It shows us that the gap between wetware and hardware is not unbridgeable. More than that, it reminds us that electricity is a natural phenomenon -- Galvani saw it as the fluid of life -- and that the history of its discovery began in experiments with organic tissue.

 

More: http://www.conceptlab.com/frog/

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