Flood, a light made of lightbulbs and cables in water by Michael Cross and Julie Mathias


Made together with Julie Mathias whilst at the RCA Flood is a light made of lightbulbs and a big mass of cables submerged in water. It's enticing, it's frightening and it gets great reactions from people who see it. I learned an enormous amount from it and best of all it's the project that got me through those difficult first few years after college. Even so, I have mixed feelings about it.

When we first started the project we just had this image of a lightbulb floating in water, we thought it would look naughty and it was a bit taboo so we looked for a way of making it. It was only afterwards that we discovered all the beautiful reflections inside the bulbs, how attractive it was and the strange tension that always existed around it. The atmosphere it generates is what I still like about it, the thing I don't like is the way it fitted so easily into the world of Designer lights, a world which I really don't want to be part of. In the beginning I saw Flood as a kind of anti-light, I thought it was a middle finger raised at all those perfectly detailed lamps that people get so precious about, but really what happened was that it was immediately absorbed into the canon of Designer lamps.

I've left this kind of work behind now, but I'm still proud of it and I hold it in some affection because everything else I've done is built on it. Flood brought me amazing opportunities and contacts that I call on to this day. Without flood there would be no Bridge. It was a crucial part of my learning process and it helped me figure out what I don't want to be as well as what I do.

Image of Flood, a light made of lightbulbs and cables in water
Image of Flood, a light made of lightbulbs and cables in water

Of the many installations we did of Flood this is my favourite, it was at MOCA in Taipei. Their building used to be a school and they still had a some of old children's desks and chairs in a store-room so I dragged them out and made a class room gone wild. It embodied the playfulness of the project really well, and the rebellious spirit in which it was made (if not received).