South not North

Artist Maria Euler challenges human perception of science and culture by turning the points of the compass upside down with a coil made of cables.

Packed orange cable hanging from the ceiling

It took artist Maria Euler four months to build her magnetic coil. (© Maria Euler)

he used 500 metres (1,640 feet) of three-conductor cable to make her magnetic coil as part of her studies at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. “During my research, HELUKABEL was the only company which appeared to understand the concerns and potential of art projects,” says the 24-year-old. Wound 95 times and formed into a door-like shape, the 70 kilogram (154 pound)-coil attracts visitors at the art academy’s annual exhibition. When powered with 12 volts, a current of up to three amps flows through the cable, creating a magnetic field. At low frequencies, the field makes a compass fluctuate between north and south, causing visitors to ask themselves where in the world they are located. At higher frequencies, it’s possible to sense the invisible field with a neodymium magnet (a very small, yet extremely strong magnet) and when trying to orient yourself according to the alternating field direction, it starts to move in your hand. Maria Euler takes her inspiration from the areas of physics, computer science and science fiction. However, she came upon the idea for the project purely by accident. Her work station was littered with equipment and sketches, and a neodymium magnet fell onto her hard drive, damaging the data.

“It became clear to me how much our society depends on the principles of magnetism to store or send information. Generally, we are unaware of these invisible force fields even though their effects are so distinctive. Not to mention they form part of our planet and all of the electrically charged systems that surround us, which makes them a crucial part of our lives,” says Euler.

To the homepage of the artist

Maria Euler holding a compass
(© Maria Euler)
(© Maria Euler)
art project
(© Maria Euler)