“Spectral Landscape” by Erich Berger


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    Spectral Landscape

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Artist Statement:


    My current artistic work takes place under the umbrella of Spectral Landscapes where I investigate radioactivity and the landscape. Since spring 2020 I conduct intense fieldwork in Finland. I am exploring sites with heightened natural radioactivity, originating from the decay of natural uranium and thorium mineralisations with some of those places being potential future sites of mining. There I collect data via custom-made sensors and software which allow me to portray the gamma radiation fields as bodies that protrude from the radioactive base-rock as intricate but intrinsic features of the landscape. Invisible but present, the constitution of these bodies is part of the innate processes of our planet in deep time. They conform with continental drift, the biogenic accumulation of oxygen in our atmosphere, the folding of mountain ranges, and their weathering and they follow the carvings of geophysical forms which produce the features of the landscapes we observe around us. I refer to these bodies as spectral because their presence is ghostly and can only be detected via extra-sensorial means, but then they are also spectral because they are fields of light, of photons, although located in a part of the spectrum not visible to the human eye. At the same time, Finland is building Onkalo, the first permanent deep geological spent nuclear fuel repository. It will be backfilled until 2120 and engineering claims that Onkalo can hold back the nuclear waste for the next one hundred thousand years, traveling into a deep future yet to become. Two stories connected by their materiality cover the full scale of planetary time. What can we learn from deep time for the present and a possible deep future, what about questions of intergenerational justice, is there a politic of scales, and what are possible artistic strategies to address such questions?


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