Thursday, June 4, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] Fwd: Artists and Atoms: Fission and Fusion


Leonardo co editor Sheila Pinkel published an interesting
article in leonardo on her work called Thermonuclear Gardens.
Details below.

On of the interesting things is that through this work she
discovered that her father had been involved in much classified work in the
nuclear business = and she only learned this as an adult.

At the same time I am a bit unhappy the way the fission and fusion
topic gets so quickly coupled to the negatives ( military, risk of accidents)
in the case of fusion energy that is being developed through ITER= it is clearly
civilian, and fusion power doesnt have the disadvantages of nuclear waste= and
is potentially a really key contributor to how we move off dependency
on fossil fuels over the coming 50 years.  Later this month we will try
and elaborate more of the discussion around ITER


Thermonuclear Gardens:
Information Artworks about
the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex
Sheila Pinkel

The author traces the evolution
of her installations about the
military-industrial complex during
the 1980s and early 1990s and
artworks that emerged as a result
of her research. In addition to national
and international data,
maps, graphs and statistics about
the industry, the author over time
progressively added regional, sitespecific
information in order to
empower viewers. The process of
creating these works revealed the
place of the nuclear industry in
the author's own family, which ultimately
facilitated the design of
later installations.


I then asked my then 70-year-old father to explain
to me, his then 45-year-old daughter,
the difference between boiling-water
and breeder reactors. He drew me precise
schematics and explained the differences.
I was impressed by his ability to
do that so well and asked him how he
knew so much about this technology. He
said that he had designed the first research
reactor used at NASA's Lewis
Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. I was
quite impressed that I never knew that
my father had worked in the nuclear industry
and that his work had been so top
secret that he had never discussed it at
all with his family.

Growing up in a "top-secret" household
gave me the inside experience of
how secrecy can disrupt familial relations.
I never really knew what my father
did for a living until I was an older person.
As it turned out, my father agreed
with my criticism of the nuclear industry.
He shared with me his analysis: that
the industry's problems arose from loss
of control by the scientists because of
power-grabbing by attorneys and
businesspeople, which led to the toorapid
development of an industry before
it was ready.

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