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ELEKTRA national monument

The century of hydroelectric power. Electronic art in public space by Finn Erik Modahl

Electra at Tveitahaugen is a spiral-shaped landscape sculpture with a diameter of seventy-five meters. The landscape wraps itself around a steel core with running water and a vertical sculpture anchored at the center of the core. The sculpture is more than six meters high, and represents the energy and intensity that hydroelectric power once represented in Norway. At the same time, the work is an expression of the current and future use of electricity in the service of advanced technology. These dual metaphors form the unifying concept of Elektra.


Kulturminneplakaten Elektra in Tveitahaugen in Tyssedal. Photo: Arvid Aga 


The sculpture consists of three main shapes:

A 6.5 meter high sculpture, crafted from granite and 999 layers of hand-cut horizontal glass, lifts the visitors' gaze upwards. The cutaway in the glass sculpture is illuminated by neon from the inside, and at night the blue-green sheen cast onto the surroundings recalls the color of a mountain lake.
The vertical and horizontal planes of the landscaped spiral shape, or cochlea, are covered with grass. The center of the cochlea, shaped like a three-sided cone, tilts at a 60 degree angle below the granite sculpture.
The water component of the sculpture, with a volume of 230 cubic meters, is a closed system. The water is transported up and trickles down onto a 14.5 meter long shiny and slightly bowed steel plate. The resulting film of water mirrors the sculpture and surrounding area.


The inner, winding space of the sound sculpture creates a dynamic experience for visitors. When walking on the steel floor in the center of the sculpture, energy from the vibrations is captured by sensors, which in turn trigger real-time compositions. The sounds have been processed beforehand, but the visitors influence the outcome of what they hear. The sound is delivered by a four-channel sound system that produces non-linear compositions of sound and music every time the steel floor is tread upon. The music has been made in the composition program Max, and the sound parts are composed of the following:
1. Background (turbines and transformers) and tones (processed electricity)
2. Rhythm (when the visitors stamp the floor, an alarm is started in the same tempo)
3. Simulated visitor activity
4. Start-up (processed startup sounds from the turbine Tysse2)


Elektra between industry and housings. Photo: Kraftmuseet


Maintenance, upgrading, and surveillance of the system is done by BEK - Bergen Center for Electronic Arts. Elektra was the winning proposal in an open competition by The Ministry of Culture, Norwegian Arts Council, Odda Municipality, and Tyssefallene AS, and close to 20 institutions and businesses have been involved in the project. The sculpture and the grounds are accessible to the handicapped.



Innviinga av vasskraftmonumentet Elektra i 2000 It was opened in 2000. Photo: Arvid Aga


Text: Finn Erik Modahl

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Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry

Naustbakken 7, 5770 Tyssedal
Phone: +47 53 65 00 50