Deep Decay: Into Dia-chronic Polychromatic Material Fictions
Article wrote by Andy Weir in PARSE Journal, autumn 2016.
The deep geological repository project for the long-term storage of radioactive material opens an encounter between design processes in the present and the ‘deep time’ of 4.46 billion year futures. Beyond debates around ethics of responsibility to future generations, this paper argues, this invokes a more radical futurity, where human thought confronts its contingency alongside nuclear timescales. Art practices play a key ‘stakeholder’ role in imagining repository sites, in a context where they are both rooted in materialities of stochastic decay process and necessarily subject to interdisciplinary transformation. This paper asks what specific knowledge art practices could give us in this context. What are their potentials and problems? And what could this mean for the historical conditions of ‘contemporary art’? It does this through departing from the 2010 film Into Eternity and its production of awe-struck ineffability through cinematic allusion to massive duration. Deep radiological times are proposed instead not as ‘eternity’ but as ‘very large finitude’ (Morton), not immeasurable but as call to develop art practice through collective experimentation and technological augmentation. This extends Nick Srnicek’s proposal for an ‘aesthetics of the interface’ as a making operational of complex data through making it amenable to the senses, and concludes with some propositions from the author’s current art practice.
Image : installation view “Mémoire du Futur” Soulaines Site, France, ANDRA, 2011.