Kiln formed glass, silk and stainless steel
100cm x 90cm x 48cm (2 components)
During the Cold War, the potential damage and risk of a nuclear strike could be quantified by a soldier using a circular slide rule. Measuring the full range of nuclear radioactivity and related harms, these calculators are a haunting historical relic of a time when there was great fear of a nuclear holocaust.
The United States “Little Boy” was the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare and was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. It exploded with a force equivalent to 15,000 tonnes of TNT. In contrast, the “Tsar Bomba” developed by the Soviet Union was the largest thermonuclear weapon ever detonated with a yield of 50,000,000 tonnes of TNT.
In this work, the “Little Boy” and “Tsar Bomba” are cast to the same scale in uranium glass to contrast their difference in size. They are suspended from fragile glass parachutes displaying the respective nation’s nuclear slide rule. In competition with one another, they ominously descend down towards a mutual assured destruction (MAD)– a fear renewed by recent events in North Korea.
Doomsday Clock - Three Minutes to Midnight
Three Minutes to Midnight
Sandblasted uranium glass, clock parts
140cm x 140cm x 6cm
The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor representing the proximity by which civilisation is potentially damaged by dangerous technologies of our own making. Since the middle of the 20th century, nuclear technologies have produced environmental, socioeconomic and geopolitical threats. Other dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging biotechnologies, and cybertechnology that can inflict harm to our way of life on the planet.
The ‘clock’ has been maintained since 1947 by the members of the Chicago-based Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The most recent officially announced setting – three minutes to midnight – was made on January 22, 2015 due to climate change, the modernisation of nuclear weapons in the US and Russia, and the problem of nuclear waste.
This artwork utilises historic and contemporary iconic imagery, and includes ironic references to popular culture that diffuse the reality of the dangers generated by all aspects of nuclear industries. In the making of this work, handmade antique glass dinner plates coloured by uranium dioxide were sourced. The fluorescence the viewer experiences under ultraviolet light is unique to the presence of uranium dioxide within the glass structure.
Calculating Nuclear Fear
Calculating Nuclear Fear
Cast uranium glass with soroban and mild steel
75cm x 23cm x 70cm
In a society dependent on digital devices, our consumption of information can often result in fear, not facts. In March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. “Significant radiation” was released into both the air and the ocean.
This work uses a Japanese traditional abacus or counting frame called a soroban. It is a calculating tool that is still used in Japanese schools today despite the proliferation of digital devices. Some beads on the soroban have been cast in uranium glass and depict various seafood species used in Japanese cooking such as Pacific Blue Fin Tuna, Red Seabream, Salmon, Mackerel and Flounder.
A simple online search reveals a torrent of information on the alleged dangers of fallout from the Fukushima disaster. But beyond this, the factual information is often too technical that it is difficult to comprehend. Uncertainty, ignorance, and fear about the ‘invisible threat’ of radiation imbue the information we consume.
Kiln formed glass
18cm x 35cm x 50cm
Nuclear waste evokes negative emotions with images of dumped yellow barrels leaking their radioactive contents and damaging the environment. This work shows the polycrystalline structure of vitrified nuclear waste, waste made into a solid that cannot leak.
Nuclear power promised clean energy, but behind this simplistic and distorted ideal is the fact that almost everything that comes in to contact with nuclear material, even water, is contaminated and must be contained.