There is, undoubtedly, lots of science behind FACT’s new Winter Sparks show. But, like those Christmas Royal Institution lectures, our advice is to skip the boring backstory and just indulge in the sensory thrill of the experiments.

Charged with shock and awe, this exhibition features work from four spine-tingling international new media artists, offering a light and sound show from a network of electric sparks, interacting with the dramatic charges from Tesla coils, and (less thrilling) exploring the mysteries of the Wilberforce pendulum – CCTV cameras bouncing up and down. Nothing to see here.

You think Christmas lights, Liverpool-style, are just thouse epilepsy-inducing blue LED’s hanging from your neighbour’s garage? Fuck that. Get to FACT, where, above your head, a constellation of angry shooting stars twitch and dance, like chemically stimulated synapses after a night on MCat. Their loud, fizzing symphony reminiscent of an orchestra of Moogs tuning up for a Kraftwerk convention. It’s (sorry about this) bloody electrifying. Ignore the pictures, here, they simply don’t do the full-on assault justice. This is the best son et lumiere this side of the pyramids.

Winter Sparks features the awe-inspiring physics-based works of Canadian artist and composer Alexandre Burton, Dutch artist and academic Edwin van der Heide, and Spain-based Bosch & Simons, known for their complex ‘music machines’.

Above, in the Tesla gallery, the chaos of electricity creates fleeting lightning storms: their zig-zagged dance like those ghostly blood vessels you spot behind your eyes when you’re getting probed in Vision Express, or the scorched branches of dead trees. One looked like a map of the A Roads of Britain. I’ve seen this before, I mutter inwardly, and then I realise, the patterns look like those plastinated veins and capillaries exhumed from our depths, at the Bodies exhibition in Liverpool ONE.

Our friends are, indeed, electric. And so is this powerfully charged exhibition.

Winter Sparks
Wood Street
(to 24 February)

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