Bedford Level Experiment (flat earth)
Mild & Carbon Steel
Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?
Bertrand Russel (1912)
The Bedford Level Experiment, first conducted in 1838 by Samuel Birley Rowbothan (one of the fathers of zetetic astrology), was originally performed to prove that the Earth was flat. Several years later it was discovered that the Earth’s curvature has direct effects on the physical properties of light waves which, coincidentally, allowed for the very same experiment to be used in proving that the Earth is round.
In his publication titled The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russel used tables as metaphorical objects with which to describe the relationship between ‘perceptual knowledge and ‘sense data.’ In effect, this highlighted the importance of viewing everything in relation to everything else.
Thus the sculpture itself was conceived and made with the above in mind and a visual cue was taken from the shape of a ‘flat earth’ as proposed by the Zetetic Society in the Eighteenth Century. Constructed using steel steam-pipe components and pre-bent steel straps, fabrication of the sculpture made for an intensive learning experience in welding, grinding and polishing techniques (and all these on a strict budget to boot). The awkward shape also required some creative problem solving especially when it came to polishing the interior. The biggest lesson learned was definitely that polishing steel is much more time consuming a process than that required for its softer non-ferrous cousins.