~e; On Electromagnetic Jewelry

From human being <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Mon, 14 Apr 2003 02:40:29 -0500

On Electromagnetic Jewelry

In earlier work relating architecture with the electrical 
infrastructure, the universal iconography of everyday objects such as 
electrical streetlights, distribution poles, and antennae were proposed 
as a common aesthetic language in the built environment as jewelry.

Several years later the digital sketches (1) of this jewelry were 
created by happenstance. The chance arose to take a metal jewelry 
class, and in the process, several of these works were completed. The 
'sketches of jewelry' and the finished 'jewelry sketches' are close to 
identical in composition and intent. So, the idea was further 
materialized yet not substantially changed, other than realizing the 
sketch in new materials. It is not suspected the basic idea has 
changed, nor perception of it.

In any case, prior to beginning to learn new skills in the miniature 
making of things, it became obvious that materials current exist in 
pre-made formats enabling the mass construction of some kinds of 
electroamgnetic jewelry, using the most basic of tools (wire cutters, 
needle-nose pliers, superglue) and everyday objects (such as small 
lightbulbs, transistors, capacitors, etc.). Thus, the aspect of 
Do-It-Yourself jewelry was one possible path to explore, which led to 
the 'jewelry sketch' of D.I.Y. Lightbulb Earrings. (2)

Upon taking an 8 session course in metal jewelry, 7 sessions of which 
were attended, the instructor from a local community art center 
prepares students to make a customized ring from scratch. The teacher 
was open to proposals for other creations, as the same basic concepts 
would be employed in creating other objects with bezels and stones and 
soldering cut and shaped metals. Thus, two custom projects were 
undertaken, being a streetlight and an electromagnetic broadcasting 
tower. In addition, several sketches of electrical distribution poles 
were realized through the cutting, routing, and gluing of wood, and 
bending of metal. (3)

In learning more about constructing jewelry, there are many things that 
are possible, given skill, and other more difficult projects yet basic 
iconographic and found-object jewerly can be created. Yet for actively 
energized electromagnetic jewelry, employing batteries and lights and 
other possible sensors, requires new EM skills and expertise beyond 
that of working with metals, but also their electrical properties for 
creating circuits. Some earlier sketches of active electromagnetic 
jewelry include flashing rings, brooches, and necklaces. (4)

This activated jewelry, it has been realized, is more complex than 
first imagined, and it has more potential for a range of 
interpretations. Of the few sketches, such jewelry is related to 
similar technologies employed in the built environment, such as 
flashing construction barricades, and elevator signage via animated LED 
(Light Emitting Diode) indicators, which can be further related to 
previous works referencing the structure of language or the 
transposition of numbers.

In any case, in investigating the most basic aspect of electronics, and 
in attempting to learn more about how LEDs and various other devices 
work (capacitors, switches, circuits), it was hoped that some of these 
more complex ideas might be approached in the near future. At a local 
electronics surplus store (Ax-Man, Twin Cities) various materials for 
these jewelry sketches were hunted and gathered. Of these, a set of 
uniquely designed green LED lights were considered the easiest place to 
start and the task of designing LED earrings was contemplated. The idea 
is simple, and it was confirmed that a watch battery would provide 
power yet these likely should not contact human skin, and so would 
require a covering, possibly a switch or a way to turn the lights on 
and off, and a basic earring attachment. How to encase the watch 
battery would be a question, so "LED earrings" was googled. Sure 
enough, some others had come up with the idea previously, as had 
someone with a 1970s US patent, which from the little knowledge 
provided in the search result, indicated that a circuit, a battery, 
casing, and LED were a patented idea which seemed absurd, as it would 
not be possible to make powered LED earrings without having a circuit, 
battery, casing for the battery (and human protection), and LEDs. 
Including a switch was also an optioned patent.

Something very interesting occured, though, as a result of searching, 
and it was that there is an active development of this idea of using 
active EM jewelry in the Rave sector of culture. (4.5) Of several 
websites, one in particular was excellent in presenting LEDs as a 
material for jewelry, and also demonstrates the limits of design with 
today's efficiencies for batteries and power requirements which help to 
determine the shape, size, and dimensions of the pieces, which appear 
to be directly related to the size of watch batteries, or the power 
source. (5) Of particular interest are the LED Earrings of Lightgod.com 
which use two magnets, one on each side of the earlobe, to hold the 
flashing LEDs in place. (6) Added to this, other active electromagnetic 
materials were found in use, with special electroluminescent (EL) 
properties. (7) As with other designers, these experimetnal materials 
are also developed as clothing, accessories, and costumes. (8)

What become clear is that the simple LED earrings or ring would be 
someting inferior to what already exists, and it would be of interest 
to collect early manifestations of this type of jewelry as it evolves, 
with various unique pieces that excel in design and concept. So too, 
aspects of creating changing or sequencing LED patterns would require 
more than basic knowledge, likely a programmed chip and complex circuit 
and larger size with which many pieces seem to address by having 
wearers of such EM jewelry carry batteries to make these items work. 
Thus, the upper-limit of feasible design is reached with the 
requirements of the materials, with power consumption, efficiency, 
intensity, and other aspects all part of the equation of a piece of 
electromagnetic jewelry. The scale for complex designs seems that of an 
LED alarm clock, if addressing similar issues, more than turning one 
switch on and off repeatedly. This could well change with advances in 
battery, fuel cell, or solar power and in smaller scale LEDs and other 

Yet in searching out LED Jewelry by others, two major approaches were 
found immediately, engineers and artists designing EM jewelry, coming 
from different perspectives of knowledge of the technical materials to 
an interest in these aesthetic, and those with knowledge in aesthetics 
approaching the unique aspects of electromagnetic materials. There may 
also be people who share both perspectives, as one requires the other.

Like in the earlier individual investigations, the approach to 
designing EM jewelry with existing or altered found-objects is also 
employed and advanced by persons knowledgable of the qualities of these 
materials and their particular cultural value through invention or 
cultural ubiquity. The work of Arteco is interesting in this regard, 
demontrating the unique perspective of the self-taught electromagnetic 
jeweler. (9)

In an entirely different approach, the artistic exploration and use of  
'non-traditional' materials results in electromagnetic jewelry that is 
refined to the highest degree, challenging the quality of the materials 
themselves through intricate and uniquely poetic jewelry. This 
aesthetic approach, of limited- and one-of-kind production, is a glipse 
at the future of embedded jewelry, a hybrid of traditional skills with  
new EM materials, utilizing a knowledge of electronics and design. (10)

One indication of this future which can be seen in various approaches 
to electromagnetic jewelry is that Corporations are designing 
technology as jewelry, where earrings become hearing pieces or 
flash-memory, and may someday have watches that become cellphones much 
like the cellphone on a lanyard that is being presented as a fashion 
accessory. The watch, the earring, the ring, the necklace, eyeglasses, 
bracelets, and other types of wearable artifacts may continue in this 
experimental mode, embedding electromagnetic advances in the ongoing 
tradition, thus recreating it. Earrings with Bluetooth, a ring with a 
digital voice recorder, watches that function as cellphones and 
Personal Information Managers (PIMs), in addition to clothing woven of 
electronic threads for diagnostics and display, glasses that become 
computer screens for Wi-Fi personal area networks, and shoes which 
generate power for these.

By investigating this traditional discipline of jewelry, as old as is 
human society, and its intersection with the new electromagnetic order 
of materials, ideas, innovation, and experimentation, this merging of 
the arts and crafts in various disciplines becomes increasingly 
evident. This is not a differentation of new media versus old, nor a 
dichotemy of digitalism versus analog worldviews, alone. Though it is 
about the old and new, it is about media, and it is digital and analog. 
But at its core, the tradition is slowly changing everyday through this 
steady march of electromagnetic science and technology, which can be 
readily perceived in the changing nature of art. That electromagnetic 
jewelry may help bridge the gap between internet art and modern art is 
only possible if the question is as big as the event that is now 
underway: a complete redefinition and recontextualization of culture 
tradition via a revolution and evolution of electromagnetic knowledge, 
and awareness. It will no longer suffice to ignore the electromagnetic 
basis of matter, energy, and information as it is understood today in 
its various parts.
The experimental advances being made in the realm of crafts, design, 
and the arts offer many views of this future world that is now 

brian thomas carroll*
the electromagntic-internetwork

*IN SEARCH OF electromagnetic artists, designers, technologists
to participate in an open fair-use exhibit of EM art and artifacts:
The EM Assemblage - http://www.electronetwork.org/assemblage/

(1) Early digital sketches of Electromagnetic Jewelry (c.1998-1999)

+ Incandescent Lightbulb earrings
+ Electrical Streetlight necklace
+ Cross-arm Distribution Pole necklace
+ Electrical Distribution Poles necklace
+ Electromagnetic Broadcasting Tower necklace
(2) Do-It-Yourself Incandescent Lightbulb earrings, 2003.
(3) EM Jewelry: Electrical Streetlight necklace, EM Broadcasting Tower 
necklace, Cross-arm necklace, and Distribution Poles necklace, 2003.
(4) Early digital sketches of active EM Jewelry (c.1998-99)
(4.5) LED Jewelry from Chuanz Light Industrial Mfg.Co.,Ltd
(5) LED Sparkling Ring by Lightgod.com
(6) Flashing LED Earrings by Lightgod.com
(7) Neon Necklaces Snake Beads by Lightgod.com
(8) Light-Up Clothes and Costumes by Enlighted Designs

Of special interest: Electric Nervous System costume
(9) Artteco, Jewelry made from Recycled Electronics
(10) Karen McCreary, Jewelry of Non-Traditional Materials
2003 copyright-free. images temporary. if archiving, download. bc.
  the electromagnetic internetwork-list
  electromagnetism / infrastructure / civilization