In January 2014, scientists from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou , China , published the results of recordings made in July 2012 of the optical spectrum of what was thought to be natural ball lightning made by chance during the study of ordinary cloud–ground lightning on the Tibetan Plateau . [5] [43] At a distance of 900 m (3,000 ft), a total of seconds of digital video of the ball lightning and its spectrum was made, from the formation of the ball lightning after the ordinary lightning struck the ground, up to the optical decay of the phenomenon. Additional video was recorded by a high-speed (3000 frames/sec) camera, which captured only the last seconds of the event, due to its limited recording capacity. Both cameras were equipped with slitless spectrographs . The researchers detected emission lines of neutral atomic silicon , calcium , iron , nitrogen and oxygen —in contrast with mainly ionized nitrogen emission lines in the spectrum of the parent lightning. The ball lightning traveled horizontally across the video frame at an average speed equivalent of  m/s (28 ft/s). It had a diameter of 5 m (16 ft) and covered a distance of about 15 m (49 ft) within those s.

The owners of the Huxley Apartments at Fountain and La Brea commissioned this artwork for a new courtyard adjacent to the sidewalk on La Brea Avenue. Our first impulse was to suspend a structure over the courtyard that was self-referential, of a dramatically different language than the Huxley building itself.  Stud Wall takes cues from a pair of sources, our previous work entitled Cradle in Santa Monica and leather biker jackets, which owners customize with assortments of studs, spikes and other ornaments.  

These spiky jackets have served as emblems of cool masculinity and personal liberty since the ‘50’s. Greaser, motorcyclist, gay and music subcultures (punks, goths, metalheads, rivetheads), have worn black leather for protective and often fashionable reasons, occasionally with the intention to create an intimidating appearance.  Each of these subcultures has been associated with West Hollywood at one time or another.

We studied the details of several jackets, in particular the arrangement of studs relative to leather panels of the garments themselves.  While many of the patterns followed the contours of the panels they inhabited, we were more drawn to those that operated independent of the substrate.  These patterns are not relegated to the boundary of the leather panels therefore becoming a kind of layer, superimposed over the jacket.

We added such a layer of studs to crumpled surface of the installation, imbuing a unique geometry over that of the ¼” stainless steel plates into which they are inserted.  The studs also serve a structural purpose – by providing extra weight to the structure. Contemporary design abhors weight. It is customary for designers to view lightness as an ideal quality.  That this project was a kind of hovering surface, subject to uplift caused by wind loads, demanded that it be as heavy as possible. So, we added the studs to increase its weight to nearly 4000 pounds.

As we developed the design, and as the engineers asked that more and more weight be added, the stud layer took on an increasingly aggressive look. The result, Stud Wall, seemed like it might hurt someone were they to come to close. The Huxley wears it well.


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