Electrician Makes Bolts of 'Lightning' in His Basement

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By day, Jacques Emery is a middle-aged electrician living in Martigny, Switzerland. By night, he descends into his basement, where a kind of magic happens. There amongst a sea of capacitors, resistors, diodes, and coils, he is transformed into something of a mad scientist, experimenting with the strange and beautiful power of electricity. Photographer Olivier Lovey heard about Emery from a friend three years ago. When he expressed interest in the electrician’s work, Emery excitedly gave him a tour of his laboratory, taking care to explain in great detail just how each machine functions. Emery spends hours there every day, sometimes toiling for months to build a single machine. “I immediately saw that Jacques’ universe was very photogenic, and after spending time with him, I came to realize that he was special, different from most people I knew,” Lovey said. Many of Emery’s devices are reproductions of historical machines, including a Tesla coil and a Wimshurst influence machine. Others are completely original, like the so-called “circular multiplier prototype” that Lovey says “creates lightning.” It looks like a Jean Tinguely sculpture. “He has this wild dream to master the uncontrollable, and I have great respect for it even if it’s in vain,” Lovey said. “I remember a machine he had made of magnets. He explained to me that he sometimes spent time trying to position the magnets in a certain order to approach perpetual motion. He knew it was impossible, but he kept a slight hope. I find it very poetic.” More via WIRED.

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