Eric Heller: Exponential

  • ©2000, Eric Heller





Creation Year:



    LightJet - using Lumniange process printer on archival color photographic paper, Fuji Crystal Archive


    48 inches x 36 inches



Artist Statement:

    The images in this series render electron flow paths in a “2D electron gas.” They were inspired by the experiments of Mark Topinka, Brian Leroy, and Prof. Robert Westervelt at Harvard University. Eric J. Heller, Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics, Harvard University, and Scot Shaw, a graduate student in the Physics Department at Harvard, conducted the theoretical work for the experiments.

    A word about the process: each print is an original created by sending a digital file to a LightJet imager, which writes to 50 inches wide photographic paper. The images are then developed through the normal photographic process. The resulting prints have a 60- year archival life under normal lighting conditions. Autumncolor in Worcester, Massachusetts handles print management.

    “Exponential” depicts electron flow patterns generated by electrons riding over a bumpy landscape. I have created numerous versions of the same phenomenon; the point being that electron flow is not so much of an object or occurrence to be captured or “photographed,” but rather is a fluid medium with which one can paint scenes. Using electron flow becomes analogous to using watercolor, which flows on paper in nature-mimicking ways that are often exploited to good effect. In “Exponential,” we may see landscapes or a monstrous bird with feathers. The tendency of nature to mimic herself on many different scales and in many disparate contexts is being highlighted and exploited at the same time. For me, the southwestern motif colors and the gradient sky evoke a sense of universal erosion patterns on landscape; the effect is of the landscape being poured out from the upper right. Together with the bird, this image is primordial, showing the creation of landform and life on the earth, making clear their unity.

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Harvard University