Vesica Radia

Overview of work

“Vesica Radia ”, Instrument Series

Philosophical Instrument for the lecture on Radiated Energy.

Special Features: Radioactive Uranium Agate and Laser Illuminated Quartz Crystal.

Materials: Lacquered Honduras Mahogany; Machined Brass, Ebony, Antler, Lodestone, Quartz, Compass.

Size: 15.25"h x 4.75"w x 3.5"d.


Detail of Radia Base with Laser Illuminated Crystal, Compass, Lodestone and Antler Tipped Switch.

Detail of Uranium Agate


Instrument for the Lecture: Vesica Radia

Vesica Radia (my translation: vessel of radiation) again addresses my fascination with the invisibles that surround us. It also came into existence as the result of my pondering a long ago invitation to participate in an “anti nuclear weaponry” exhibition. It seemed ludicrous to me that we would even have to acknowledge our "anti" status on nuclear devastation. I designed a work for that exhibition that iconized the bomb.

I still remember the 1960's classroom drills of duck and cover and of standing in my backyard when a sonic boom knocked the wind out of me. I waited for the bright light that was sure to follow. (I knew I lived 17 miles from ground zero in downtown Chicago, but it was a B-58 “Hustler” running down the length of Lake Michigan.)

We have always feared what we can't see and what is a greater modern fear than things nuclear? I could not resist making a work that was radioactive, something abhorrent to our psyche, when I first discovered Uranium Agate; it was cathartic.

Beautification of Radiation.

Like Uranium (Vaseline) glass marbles, or dinnerware, Uranium Agate glows an eerie lime green when exposed to ultraviolet light. It is magic, a natural magic. If this had been a few centuries earlier I would have believed it was the philosophers stone and I would have been one happy alchemist.

Unlike the radioactive agate the additional elements of the work emit energy that can be perceived. The lodestone (magnetite or naturally magnetic iron ore) is mounted on a moveable stand and, when rotated, its energy can be “read” in the compass mounted across from it as it moves and spins in reaction to the changes in the orientation of the field. The crystal obelisk is the receptor for a visible laser projected into the bottom creating those fantastic veins of light that only amplified stimulated light can. (Remember Light Amplification through the Stimulated Emission of Radiation? I had a childhood friend who just loved saying that phrase.)

For me these objects are all archetypes of wonder. We know what they are, and how they work, but they are still magic. How difficult these object of phenomena must have been for the ancients to explain if they can still mystify us.

I can't help but think of the Quartz Crystal as another manifestation of our perception of “mysterious forces” that surround us. We still search for modern magic that will explain what we cannot perceive. What my students have come to refer to as "Modern Mysticism". Escaping technology, returning to the “land”, the primal. The original knowledge that they think we had.



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