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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

Nikola Tesla and Wardencylffe: The Collapse of a Utopia

This presentation examines the architectural development and evolution of Wardenclyffe, the laboratory of the inventor and electrical virtuoso, Nikola Tesla, through the avant - garde practice of urban exploration. Although designed to actualize Tesla's utopian vision of wireless telephony for the world over, Wardenclyffe, located on Long Island in New York, is currently abandoned and in ruin. Due to an array of financial and personal setbacks, Tesla's engineering endeavors were never realized as Wardenclyffe, the conduit to achieving gratuitous electricity, was damaged and partly razed to compensate the inventor's creditors. "Nikola Tesla and Wardenclyffe: The Collapse of a Utopia" connects Tesla's unfulfilled work to the structural breakdown and abandonment of his laboratory. Tesla's inability to implement his utopian vision and designs parallel Wardenclyffe's architectural decline. Following the laboratory's submission to external destruction and entropic forces, it ceased functioning as intended: Wardenclyffe no longer inherited the architectural capability to produce and provide wireless telephony. The presentation is supplemented with commentary related to various disciplines including anthropology, art history, sociology and urban design. In particular, Wardenclyffe's dilapidation is considered through Thing Theory to provide the structure with a biographic narrative which coincides with Tesla's personal misfortunes. The laboratory's architectural birth, life and death is examined through the artistic and cultural phenomena of urban exploration and the infiltration of abandoned structures.

Presenter: Elizabeth Morgan Stark Pysarenko (SUNY Purchase) -- elizabeth.pysarenko@purchase.edu
Topic: Art & Landscape
Location: 102 Edwards
Time: 1:45 pm (Session III)