Imagine what it is like to be surrounded by a thunder and lightning storm.
David Blaine, the magician and endurance artist no longer needs to wonder. Honouring a lifelong fascination with science and the pioneering work of Nikola Tesla, he has created a very dramatic and visually arresting performance of being shocked by one million volts of electricity. Pier 54, part of Manhattan’s Hudson River Park, hosted the spectacle.
Standing on a 20 foot pillar for 72 hours straight over this past weekend, he was surrounded by 7 Tesla coils. Synchronized with electronic music, the lightning-like bolts of electricity continually arced from the coils to Mr. Blaine.
It looks incredibly dangerous and when we were first walking toward him, it was a little unsettling. But, as we got closer, seeing a smile on his face made us realize that he wasn’t in any actual pain. Blaine wore a protective “Faraday suit”, wire cage helmet and iron soled boots, which effectively conducted the electricity away from him. As long as the suit was not breached, or he didn’t scratch his nose, he was safe.
The real test was of his endurance. Standing for 72 hours without food or rest seems impossibly difficult, but Mr. Blaine has worked hard to prepare and has certainly tested his limits before.
You may recall some of his previous performances:
In 1999 he spent a week in a glass topped coffin in Riverside Park; in 2000, he was frozen into a block of ice for 63 hours in Times Square. 2002 put him atop a 100 ft. pillar in Bryant Park for 35 hours. The longest of these endurance feats was in 2003 where Blaine spent 44 days living in a glass box suspended over the Thames River in London.
I admit, I was alternately repelled and fascinated by the display. It’s interesting and frightening at the same time.
As time went on this weekend, I couldn’t resist periodically checking on David via the live YouTube feed. He succeeded!! Even when it was all over I still could not pull away from the broadcast. Afterward, he graciously thanked his crew and supporters and announced that this would be his last endurance stunt.