Jeanne Jaffe, Elegy for Tesla, 2015. Mixed media, motion sensors, interactive computing, and video, dimensions variable.

Jeanne Jaffe

Glassboro, NJ

Rowan University Art Gallery

Nikola Tesla, the “genius inventor,” has been brought back to life on the page, stage, and screen; in Jeanne Jaffe’s room-size installation, his “spirit” animates multiple cast resin marionettes (some life-size and some miniature). Each figure references a chapter in Tesla’s life as seen from the outside and imagined from the inside. Created as an interdisciplinary fusion of art, science, history, theater, mythology, and psychology, Elegy for Tesla allows viewers to accompany and interact with “Tesla” by experiencing moments along his life’s journey. Inspired by a theatrical performance on Tesla’s life, Jaffe found the perfect subject for her interest in an enhanced integration of art with science and technology. An earlier project, T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, had included small interactive marionettes that moved and spoke. Elegy for Tesla goes further—it mashes up time by presenting a life-size, robust, young Tesla and a smaller, wizened, old Tesla, representing high and low points in the life of a man famed for myriad inventions (Tesla coil, alternating current, wireless technology, radar, and many others), who never achieved the recognition he deserved in his lifetime …see the entire review in the print version of May’s Sculpture magazine.

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