Focus Theme: Markers
2016-18


Purpose 

The Earth is marked by the nuclear age. This is true whether we consider the history of the nuclear age, or its future. Looking back through history, a small number of scholars have taken up Paul Crutzen’s revised proposal for the origins of the Anthropocene epoch as coinciding with the dawn of the nuclear age. “Like radiation medicine administered to a patient to make the internal system visible to doctors”, says Robert Jacobs, “the movement of radionuclides through the ecosystem revealed a systemic interconnectedness that had been previously invisible.” Elsewhere, Myra Hird has speculated as to whether the marker of the Anthropocene is in fact its waste sites, such as that produced by the 1945 Trinity test and its infrastructure. Much work remains to be done in the coming months and years to examine the veracity of Crutzen’s hypothesis, as well as the direction others such as Jacobs and Hird have variously taken it.

Looking deep into the future, many are considering the task of communicating the problem of nuclear harm to the next 30,000 generations. Permanent waste repositories, for instance, are intended to be sealed and passively monitored (without human intervention) for the next 100,000 or more years. To avoid intrusion there is a debate as to how, if at all, these sites should to be communicated—by the establishment of specialist archives and “markers”. That is, what symbols, messages, images, and warnings might humans responsible for such markings use today in order to communicate to beings 10s and 100s of thousands of years into the future? Will these intruders listen to—or even comprehend—the messages delivered by present-day humans at all? The question of nuclear markers is therefore an open one. And for this reason, it was the inaugural focus theme of the Archive of Nuclear Harm.

Activities between 2016 and 2018 included four exhibitions, a film series that has taken place on three continents, the continued acquisition of physical items along with their digitisation, as well as the design and delivery of an intensive workshop in the Nuclear Humanities.

Exhibitions

N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, “Postcards from the Anthropocene: Unsettling the Geopolitics of Representation” symposium at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 22-24, 2017. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, Maxey Museum for Man and Nature, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, United States, September 26-28, 2016. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor with Andrew Hustwaite, Nuclear Deferral, c3 Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne, Australia, August 17-September 11, 2016. Curated by N.A.J. Taylor. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, Memory of Mankind, Hallstadt, Austria, August 17, 2016-12,016.


Film Screenings

Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 1, 2018.

Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 1, 2018.

Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 1, 2018.

Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 9, 2017.

Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 9, 2017.

Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 2, 2017.

Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.

Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.

Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.

Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.

Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.

Paul Brown et al’s Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.

Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.

Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.

Paul Brown et al’s Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.

Peter Kuran’s Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie (1995), Chamber, Brunswick, Australia, August 29, 2016.

Mori Masaki’s Barefoot Gen: Part Two (1983), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, August 9, 2016.

Mori Masaki’s Barefoot Gen: Part One (1983), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, August 6, 2016.

Mark Cousin and Mogwai’s Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, April 26, 2016.

Paul Johannessen, Jeffrey Jousan and Ivan Kovac’s Women of Fukushima (2012), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, March 12, 2016.

Todd Chandler and Jeff Stark’s Let Them Believe (2011), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, April 26, 2016.


Articles

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Manifesto for an Archive of Nuclear Harm’, Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, Fall 2018. [PDF available on request]


Book Chapters

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Nuclear deferral’, in Livia Monnet and Peter C. van Wyck (eds.), Toxic Immanence: Nuclear Legacies, Futures, and the Place of Twenty-First Century Nuclear Environmental Humanities, McGill-Queens University Press, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, 2018. [PDF available on request]


Delivered Papers


N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Towards a narrative nuclear politics: From Trinity to Monte Bello, Emu and Maralinga’. Paper presented at the Telling the Stories of Radiation Exposure Workshop, Environmental Arts and Humanities, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, June 22, 2018. [PDF available on request]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Marking nuclear harm: Atomic art for the Anthropocene’. Paper presented at the From Trinity to Fukushima and Beyond: New Approaches to Nuclear Culture and the Nuclear Arts in the 20th and 21st Century, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 10, 2017. [PDF available on request]