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Wellcome Collection reveals three major commissions in its new show about electricity

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John Gerrard, 2017: X. laevis (Spacelab)
Photo: Thomas S.G. Farnetti, Wellcome photographer

The Wellcome Collection has unveiled three major new commissions inspired by the theme of electricity, as part of its upcoming exhibition, Electricity: The spark of life, which opens tomorrow.

The show “traces the story of mankind’s quest to understand, unlock and master the power of the electricity” and brings together over 100 objects from ancient spark-inducing amber and early electrostatic generators to radiographs, photographs, models and films.

Artists John Gerrard, Camille Henrot and Bill Morrison have each created a work inspired by the themes seen throughout the show.

John has created a live simulation inspired by Luigi Galvani’s 18th-Century experiments on amputated legs of dead frogs titled X. laevis (Spacelab). The work “represents an experiment that occurred more than 200 years after Galvani, during the second mission of the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992”.

Camille’s installation is a zoetrope of animals hand-crafted from electricity bills. Titled January 2017 Horoscope 2017, the work takes inspiration from the holdings of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands, which has a huge collection of objects relating to early electrical experiments.

Bill has created a work using mid-20th Century graphic films with an original score by composer Bill Frisell. Electricity 2017 is a 30-minute animated film that explores the “production and distribution of electricity and its impact on our daily lives”. The short brings together footage from 130 technical, educational and commercial films.

Electricity: The spark of life opens 23 February – 25 June 2017 at Wellcome Collection, London.

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John Gerrard: X. laevis (Spacelab)
Photo: Thomas S.G. Farnetti, Wellcome photographer

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Bill Morrison: Electricity
Photo: Thomas S.G. Farnetti, Wellcome photographer

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Bill Morrison: Electricity
Photo: Thomas S.G. Farnetti, Wellcome photographer

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Bill Morrison: Electricity
Photo: Thomas S.G. Farnetti, Wellcome photographer

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Camille Henrot: January 2017 Horoscope (2017), installation view
Photo: M Bowles for Wellcome Collection