Bitesize Lecture with Bartaku

PhoEf: The Undisclosed Poésis of the Photovoltaic Effect. With Bartaku

Ancient civilizations adored her, tied her to a pole. Painters madly tried to capture her light and in 1839, Alexandre Becquerel transformed the Sun's disposed photons directly into electrical energy. His discovery which would significantly change the relations between Earth and Humans, was named the Photovoltaic Effect: The generation of a voltage or current through the absorption of light by one or a combination of materials. 44 years later Charles Fritts patented the first solar cell.

A century later photovoltaic technology (PV) powered space craft and eventually houses, wrist watches, water pumps, parking meters and calculators. The present generation of PV technology allows cells to be printed on rooftops or integrated into glass, fibers and other materials due to higher flexibility and with greater aesthetic diversity. Particularly, their use in consumer electronics will soon catch your eye, if it hasn't already. PV is at last becoming affordable and widespread so we can put innovation and creative design at the centre of this technology.

Freed from the status of mere spin-off from military research in the space race or commercial hand-me-down, PV is ready to take its place in world-changing, life-enhancing designs. For example, PV powers a Buddha in a Dutch pond (with the help of 22 PV-ducks), and it may provide the electric juice for lasers trying to reconstruct the destroyed Buddhas in Bamiyan Afghanistan. But besides powering what we do (or do not) need, PV invites us to close our eyes (whilst pivoting on one leg) in order to try to detect the most popular photon hangout in our space and place; it makes us use shadow as a playful interface; it invites us to follow the photons and to predict them like a smart farmer; it reintroduces the war between DC-Ensor and AC-Tesla; it introduces a way towards independence from both big energy companies and isolated, disconnected, stand-alone ways of life… And especially, PV directs our noses towards the return to the final dot of our uni(multi)verse only 5 billion years from now… Luckily, de-light-full food and drinks by Zanzi will positively energize the talks afterwards.

PhoEf is a research project by Bart Vandeput (Bartaku) with the support of the interdisciplinary lab FoAM.