De Magnete, 2009

16mm film projection, Duration 7 mins

De Magnete
Kathleen Herbert, 2009
16mm film  projection, Duration 7 mins

De Magnete is a 16mm film responding to the theories of 16th c. scientist William Gilberd. The piece is a poetic interpretation of Gilberd’s belief that the world possessed a soul. It is his related discovery of electrostatic properties and magnetism through experiments with amber and lodestones which won him the title of the Father of Electrcity.

In De Magnete the viewer is taken on an uncanny journey through a pine forest, the camera acts as a hidden force drawing the viewer further into the forest. As dusk falls so the camera reaches its destination; radiating through the darkness is a neon sign reading Gillberds scientific quest, to find the soul of material.

De Magnete was commissioned by firstsite in Colchester


  • De Magnete, Holy Trinity Church Colchester, 2009
  • Artisterium, Tbilisi, Georgia, 2015. Catalogue Info


  • The Guardian Guide, Exhibition Preview by Jessica Lack, 12th September 2009 Read
  • Ayla Lepine, ‘”The Soul of Material“: Ernesto Neto, Do Ho Suh and Kathleen Herbert Considered’, in Rina Arya (ed), Contemplations of the Spiritual in Contemporary Art, Peter Lang, 2013 Info

Extracts from De Magnete