As Above; So Below – 23/2/2023

Since installing on 21/2/2023, the work is beginning to evolve with visible electrochemical reactions taking place between the three rings of aluminium, copper and iron on the filter paper cones in the three vessels of acidic, neutral and alkaline salt solutions:

Acidic vessel 23/2/2023
Neutral vessel 23/2/2023
Alkaline vessel 23/2/2023

The prototypes are now sprouting coral like formations, around three weeks after inception. In another two weeks, hopefully these crystalline formations will also emerge from the cones in ‘As Above; So Below’.

New work in progress!

“As above so below” or “Les Fleurs du mal” (title suggested by Dr. Peter Morse).

Three vintage glass bowls containing structures made from filter papers, each with a central conic form capped with three metal rings of iron, copper and aluminium, resting in three salt solutions of acidic, neutral and alkine, coloured by natural red cabbage juice indicator. Each underlit by a LED spotlight programmed to slowly change in complementary colours.

A work that visually changes moment by moment and over many weeks as electrochemical reactions occur and crystalline structures emerge.

Prototype reaction: alkaline solution, iron wire. Coral-like crystalline structures emerging after around two weeks.

Prototype reaction: acidic solution indicator red/purple, copper and aluminium tape.

The work will be installed next week, more photographs to follow.

Cupric corrosion

Today, 1/12/2022, I revisited a work created on 22/5/2022 to discover the rather beautiful after effects of ongoing electrochemical reactions..

The work resides in an outside workshop prone to damp and the ongoing reactions are aided by suitably moist environmental conditions.

The work, however, is leaking some rather disagreeable looking liquid and at some point it looks likely that the iron tripod base will collapse as a result of catastrophic corrosion!

Twin Reactions: T1 & T2

Re-inspired by The Electrochemical Glass, I decided to once again experiment with geometrical arrangements of metal discs.

I created two near identical reaction works, T1 & T2, the same arrangement of metals and a share of the same electrolyte in equal portions.

However, due to a faulty seal, one work, T2 began to leak, electrolyte dripping down the wall of my studio. I was aghast! Dismayed!!

But interestingly this ‘failure’ has resulted in two very different electrochemical reactions taking place. T1 seems to be simply growing copper dendrites, whilst the leaky T2 has produced a completely different set of reactions with the central iron disc producing orange ferrous compounds and the outer aluminium discs a range of blue and green cupric compounds.

T1 Reaction, 15/07/2022
T2 Reaction, 15/07/2022

The works were documented as they evolved, a webcam time lapse recording of the T2 reaction, a frame automatically taken every 10 minutes and a photograph manually taken of the T1 Reaction every 12 hours.

However the leak eventually led to the T2 reaction drying out such that the ongoing electrochemical reactions finally ceased taking place. As a result I abandoned the time lapse of T2, swapping it to time lapse the continuing dendritic T1 Reaction.

Rather than abandoning the dried out and leaky T2 Reaction, I attempted to seal the leaks and support the evolution of the work by the adding of electrolyte.

T2 Reaction 17/07/2022

What have I learnt? Apart from the need to find a better and more foolproof method of creating good seals between disparate materials, the construction failure resulted in recognising the powerful effect of ‘environmental conditions’, in this case the ratio of liquid to air.

T1 was well sealed and full of liquid, whereas with T2 there was much more air and less liquid, promoting a series of clearly different, possibly oxygen related reactions. The fact that as yet, the iron in T1 has not produced any orange ferrous oxide compunds tends to support this observation.

In addition the electrochemical reactions requiring the presence of a conductive electrolyte are visibly stronger in T1 with the presence of continually growing copper dendrites, perhaps the electrical reactions are taking precedence over the mainly chemical reactions prevalent in T2.

T1 Reaction 17/07/2022

This argument is supported by the observation that the two lower discs in T1, being more immersed in electrolyte are rich with dendritic growth whilst the upper disc being far less immersed shows only a small amount of dendritic growth coupled with tell tale blue chemical reactions indicating copper compounds.

T1 Reaction 19/07/2022

The latest image (above) suggests that the dendrites on the two lower discs are beginning to decompose too, transforming into blue and green cupric compounds, possibly due to the slow decline of electrochemical activity.. Time will tell…

Dendritic T1 Reaction (Gif) 19/07/2022

V5 Reaction with added iron compound

Since the emergence of iron dendrites in the Electrochemical Glass (1997 – present) and through observing the reactions in recent works (V1 – V5 series, 2022), iron appears to be an interesting and significant if relatively slow reactive element.

Aluminium and copper react quickly (over days) producing copper dendrites which then dissolve into beautiful blue compounds, whereas over many weeks, iron slowly turns orange, brown and black producing strange forms which stir the imagination into seeing faces, animals trees and bushes.

The challenge is to enhance the iron reactions and research has led me to investigate whether a chemical process known as chelation might promote the process.

“Chelation is a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions. It involves the formation or presence of two or more separate coordinate bonds between a polydentate (multiple bonded) ligand and a single central metal atom.” (Wikipedia)

As a first experiment I have chosen to test the readily available chelated compound EDTA iron which is used as an iron supplement in fertilisers bring readily soluble in water.

EDTA stands for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic and represents an interesting branch of chemistry involving ‘ligands’, an amalgamation of inorganic and organic chemistry where organic structures bond with inorganic elements such as iron.

V5 reaction 29/05/2022
V5 reaction 04/07/2022

The second image shows the immediate effects a few days after adding EDTA iron solution to the V5 reaction.

Orange (iron) compounds are forming over the underlying aluminium ‘hill’ and within it, indicating the beginning of a new set of reactions.

It will be interesting to see how this work now develops!