Impulse slight (1 000 000 volt)

Artist: nina canell Tags: Permanent art Permanent konst

The carbon powder from the photocopier’s ink cartridge is finely distributed around the point that was exposed for a microsecond to one million volts. Something resembling a root system is inscribed on the surface of the disk by the electric current and the movement of the carbon.

Nina Canell’s sculptures frequently relate to traces, transfers and transformations. As in the transfer from immateriality to matter, from one materiality to another, or the traces of a past event. These transfers and transformations appear in such disparate things as the imprint of human thought in a used chewing-gum or the absence of sound when a bell rings in a vacuum. The process is part of the result, like the material conducting the electricity.

Impulse Slight 1,000,000 Volts was created especially for the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm and is located on the ground floor of the Annexe, below the long stairs leading to the deepest place in the library open to visitors, but the building delves 40 more metres down into the ground. The library has its roots in its archives and its 350 year-old heritage.

The imprint of electricity can be compared to a train of thought, where associations give rise to new associations and a world of ideas materialises. Each little branching-out could represent the beginning of a thought, but like the printed matter in the archives, it is incorporated in a totality – individual thoughts become part of a collective history.

The work initiates an allegorical relationship to the National Library’s practice of collecting and archiving, where the temporal perspective can be seen as a constant stumbling-block. The vast span of time encompassed by the library can be seen in relation to the short moment of electric discharge.

Rebecka Thor


STOCKHOLM 22 maj 2013 Nina Canells konstverk Impulse Slight (1 000 000 Volt) är ett blixtnedslag på en miljon Volt, som nu har hamnat i Kungliga bibliotekets nya annex bland de ovärderliga publikationer som samlats där sedan 1661.

Verket  invigdes den 22 maj på Kungliga biblioteket.


Den kraftiga urladdningen framkallades av konstnären Nina Canell, med hjälp av elektricitetsforskaren Mahbubur Rahman,  i Ångströmlaboratoriet vid Uppsala universitet. Dess avtryck har infogats i polyamid och kol och nedsänkts i nationalbibliotekets golv.

Impulse Slight (1 000 000 Volt) är en del av Nina Canells utforskande av bl.a. naturfenomen och materiella skiftningar som elektricitet och kemiska reaktioner.

Test av blixtnedslag som ska hjälpa till att skapa mönstret i Nina Canells verk, Impulse Slight (100 000 Volt). Foto: Peter Hagdahl.