Fragments of the Acceleration

anthropogenic-landscape-fire-and-ice.jpg Anthropogenic Landscape – Operation Dominic (Christmas Island, 1962) / Ilulissat Glacier Calving Event (Western Greenland, 2008) 2-Channel Video – Top Channel: 03:06 color/sound (Looped) / Bottom Channel: 03:06 color/sound (Looped) (2020)

Fragments of the Acceleration

This exhibition grew out of my recent work critically exploring the history and ethics of nuclear weapons. The development of nuclear weapons in 1945 represented the first-time humanity was faced with the prospect of global catastrophe through our invention. The climate crisis we face currently is similarly a calamity of human invention. The advent of nuclear weapons and the climate crisis are inextricably linked. The scientists who developed the first nuclear weapon for the Trinity test debated whether or not simply testing the bomb would ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and destroy the planet. This debate alone should have been a signal of the new era humanity was entering. Recently the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, agreed upon the period of the mid-twentieth century as the beginning of a new global era known as the Anthropocene, a period in which human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment. The AWG recommended thisperiod because it can be located precisely in geological strata by the presence of radiation worldwide as a result of the fallout from nuclear testing. While most geological epochs are the products of slow and gradual change, the Anthropocene is characterized by speed. In that sense, the Trinity test has become the demarcating event heralding the beginning of what is now referred to as the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene. The term Great Acceleration refers to the acceleration of human impact, predominantly driven by the global economic system, that is discernible on an Earth system level. A “Planetary Dashboard” of 24 global indicators (12 socio-economic trends and 12 Earth system trends) was published in the journal Anthropocene Review in January 2015.[1]

This exhibition brings together work exploring the concept of the Great Acceleration and the atomic origins of the Anthropocene. The work on display presents a fragmentary view of the acceleration we are living in. The work was developed through a combination of archival research, research into scientific, historical, and cultural perspectives of the Great Acceleration, the Anthropocene, and the climate crisis, as well as an exploration of contemporary perspectives of the climate crisis as represented in broadcast media. The photographs in the exhibition were captured from images in news broadcasts by a variety of media outlets addressing the climate crisis. They were photographed using long shutter speeds to create a sense of motion and to capture the random composite of images from the source material’s editing to blur and mix and give a sense of the speed and the fleeting glimpse of the pace of human transformation of our world. The work is intended to be partial, incomplete, and fleeting, bookended by video works using archival images from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and works that include Robert Oppenheimer’s reflections on the Trinity test and Greta Thunberg’s appeals to the United Nations addressing the climate crisis. Like nuclear abolition, the key problem in global climate governance is not our scientific understanding of the problem, but rather it is in creating the global political will to solve the crisis. Through various forms, video works, photo sequences, and graphics, this body of work speaks to the speed of change we are experiencing as well as the scientific consensus about the climate crisis. The work on display references the history of the Great Acceleration, the development of climate science, and speaks to the political urgency of our present moment.

[1] The term Great Acceleration refers to the acceleration of human impact, predominantly driven by the global economic system, that is discernible on an Earth system level. A “Planetary Dashboard” of 24 global indicators (12 socio-economic trends and 12 Earth system trends) was published in the journal Anthropocene Review in January 2015.

Works in the Exhibition

Acceleration Single Channel Video – 02:17 color/sound (Looped) (2020)

Acceleration Fragments 11”x14” Archival Inkjet Print on Premium Luster Paper (20 Print Series) (2019)

Anthropogenic Horizon Single Channel Video – 03:13 color/sound (Looped) (2020)

 Anthropogenic Landscape – Operation Dominic (Christmas Island, 1962) / Ilulissat Glacier Calving Event (Western Greenland, 2008) 2-Channel Video – Top Channel: 03:06 color/sound (Looped) / Bottom Channel: 03:06 color/sound (Looped) (2020)

Climate Science Timeline 8”x10” Archival Inkjet Print on Premium Luster Paper (10 Print Series + Wall Vinyl Installation) (2020)

The Great Acceleration 54”x63” Archival Inkjet Print on Calendared Vinyl (2020)

In Our Hands 8”x10” Archival Inkjet Print on Premium Luster Paper (14 Print Series + Booklet) (2020)

Trinity 3-Channel Video – Left Channel: 14:34 color/sound (Looped) / Center Channel: 02:30 color/sound (Looped) / Right Channel: 02:18 color/sound (Looped) (2019)

Documents

Fragments of the Acceleration Exhibition Fact Sheet (PDF)

 

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