Applying 15,000 volts of electricity to a sheet of plywood may not seem like a terribly artistic endeavor, but when harnessed and captured with time-lapse photography, it can result in some astonishingly beautiful patterns. Case in point: 15,000 Volts — a short and stunning video from Melanie Hoff, a student at the Pratt Institute in New York. Scored to the meandering guitar of Agustín Barrios Mangoré, the film captures the raw power of electricity as it corses its way across a giant sheet of plywood, creating intricate fractals and Lichtenberg figures against a softly lit backdrop.
The effect is undeniably mesmerizing, but Hoff says much of that is due to the unique properties of the plywood she used. "[T]he grain of the wood influences the pattern and direction," the artist wrote in a comment on her video. "The layers of veneer and the glue that holds them together causes the growth to progress much slower than in non-plywood." She added that her footage was later "sped up hundreds of thousands of times," resulting in the hypnotic finished product, below.