Direct mp4 download or play:  The Spark Machine (Halloween 2012)

This is a device I put together in the 1980s to use in Negativland performances. It doesn’t make lightning effects, but it looks more like an arc welder. It produces loud snapping sparks. It creates about 600 volts direct current and has parts from an old TV set and military surplus. I can’t remember what I did on stage, but I think this is pretty close. It was definitely dumb! Check this YouTube video at approximately 11:25 on the counter for more. These are the remains of a hazelnut that was zapped repeatedly inside a carved Halloween pumpkin. I honestly can’t remember if this was from the public access TV show about Halloween safety where I played E.T. or one of the Negativland performances. I am quite sure the hazelnut is authentic and from the 1980s. One thing I do remember is that I nearly always referred to the nut as a macadamia nut. Somehow that seemed funnier.

I hope to be adding items to this post and correcting mistakes in the coming weeks. There are more Thanksgiving family tapes and I hope to have one up by the middle of November. I hope to be doing more here in general as long as my “2012 madness” doesn’t get the better of me. By the way, Happy Halloween!


Transformer – Reactor – U. S. Navy

General Electric Pyranol Capacitor

Ceramic Insulators on Capacitor

Makeshift Fuse in Glass Bottle and Power Transformer

5U4 Vacuum Tube

Sprague Clorinol Capacitor

General Electric No PCB’s (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) Capacitor