Art of the nuclear Anthropocene

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Technology shapes culture in many ways, not least by provoking an artistic response. Perhaps the most frightening and powerful technological development of the last century, nuclear fission, has inspired much creative output, from midcentury “atomic” fabric prints to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Now, the Nuclear Culture Sourcebook, published in September, collects the work of more than 60 contemporary artists dealing with such themes as radiation, uranium mining, and nuclear weapons.“Since the splitting of the atom, nuclear knowledge and experience has changed the way in which we see and understand the world,” writes Ele Carpenter, who edited the book and is an associate curator at Arts Catalyst in London and Bildmuseet in Umea, Sweden. The new volume is the result of four years of curatorial research in Great Britain and Japan. The artists included, Carpenter writes, “are all contributing new forms of visual and conceptual knowledge to the understanding of what ‘the nuclear’ is and might become.” Here we showcase seven works from the book.The image above is a still from Courageous, a 2016 film by British artists Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson. The two filmed aboard the decommissioned British Churchill-class nuclear submarine Courageous, which entered service in 1971 and is now preserved as a museum in Devonport. In 1982, Britain sent the Courageous to help retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina.The Nuclear Culture Source Book was published by Black Dog Publishing in partnership with Arts Catalyst and Bildmuseet, which will host the Perpetual Uncertainty exhibition of nuclear art from October 2, 2016 to April 15, 2017.

Elisabeth Eaves | September 22, 2016

A new book catalogues the latest artistic and cultural response to atomic science.