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Trinity: Reflections on the Bomb, Video Room

 

Eve Andrée Laramée
born 1956 Los Angeles, CA; lives Brooklyn, New York & Santa Fe, New Mexico
Uranium Daughters
2015
video, 6 minutes
lent by the artist, © 2020 Eve Andrée Laramée

The Uranium Daughters video is a visual metaphor for the inverse alchemy of the Atomic Anthropocene Era. It is a countdown of the half-life of uranium-238, a naturally occurring element, the feed material for uranium-235, and plutonium-239 used in nuclear and thermonuclear weapons and nuclear power. The half-life of uranium-238 is 4.47 billion years –the time it takes for a quantity of the element to decrease one half-fold. Over geological time, uranium undergoes exponential decay into “uranium daughters” that cascade into other elements and finally to stable Lead-206. The splitting screen connotes the splitting of atoms, transmutation of elements, and cell division. This video calls attention to legacy radioactive waste produced by the military during the Cold War. The build-up of nuclear weapons created the parallel “peaceful” nuclear energy industry. Thermographs and spectrographic maps of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdowns and radioactive hotspots, and archival images are overlaid onto the landscape of Mojave Desert ghost towns, Death Valley, and the Nevada Test Site (N2S2).

Mary Kavanagh
born 1965 Toronto, Ontario, Canada; lives Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Trinity 
2019
video, 34 minutes
lent by the artist, © 2020 Mary Kavanagh

 

 

Two days each year, the WSMR Public Affairs Office hosts an Open House, during which thousands of visitors come to experience the Trinity site where the atomic age began. Since her first visit in 2012, Mary Kavanagh has collected hundreds of interviews at the site that reveal a wide range of motivations and interests by those making the journey. Several threads emerge across these interviews—an understanding of the site as sacred; an interest in or skepticism about scientific achievement; anxiety about the threat of nuclear war, waste and fallout; and regret about the use of nuclear weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Trinity, Kavanagh intersperses these interviews with footage of the missile range as well as archival footage of the bomb test preparations, creating a montage film that expresses the contradictions deeply inscribed in the Trinity site.