The Stovetop: A Score

4 burner gas stove

Light Study

It fascinates me how human beings have designed many ways to control fire. Fire was used to illuminate homes, now its role has been replaced by electricity. Soon, gas stovetops will also be replaced by electric ones. I made this piece to pay tribute to the great invention of gas stove and cooking with fire.


There are too many electric light sources in my daily life, so I wanted to make an analog lighting sequence without them. I thought of these beautiful flames that I rely heavily on, from boiling water for my morning coffee to frying my favorite dinner dish, in my kitchen – the gas stove. Their flames are “hidden” beneath the cookware so I don’t normally pay attention to their visual characteristics. It is fire, it functions like fire, but it is blue, which is not how we usually use to describe the color of fire.

Began with drawing down all the combinations of the four burners’ ignition states. After finishing all sixteen of them, I labeled them with four digits number in order of top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right. On is 1, off is 0.

These seemingly random sets of four digits reminded me of binary numbers. Hence, 0000 to 1111 was counted by a sequence of the stovetop ignition patterns.

In the video, the irregular intervals between the burners’ offs and ons were not intentionally scored, but simply by the igniters’ different qualities. My struggles in the beginning were obvious. But increasingly, my skill in getting the ignition just right got much better.

While operating this “lighting control system”, my face occasionally would get a little too close to the light sources. Every time, the heat surprised me. Perhaps the reason being their blue color. Watching the blue flames dancing in the dark, I had the best time playing with this 19th century technology.

Josephine Pu-Sheng Wang (1992, Taipei) is an artist, designer and technologist who plays with light, sculpture, electronics in performance and installation art.