Radical Infiltrations New Media Exhibition

FLEFF

Journey to the Planet of Nuclear Chewing Gum

Journey to the Planet of Nuclear Chewing Gum

Austria, 2018
Vera Sebert
http://journey-to-the-planet-of-nuclear-chewing-gum.verasebert.com/

Evoking the visual and narrative aesthetic of a 1950s B-grade Hollywood film, Journey to the Planet of Nuclear Chewing Gum is an interactive project that allows users to assemble images of human, nonhuman, or artificial body parts over movie footage by dragging and dropping them, then snap pictures which are downloaded to the website.

The project puts the Cold War fear of nuclear contamination into perspective by pointing out that chewing gum, which is 80% plastic, can take centuries to decompose, whereas certain radioactive isotopes, such as iodine-131 and colbalt-60, have a considerably shorter half-life.[1]

In many ways, the project points to the naïve optimism of the mid-twentieth century when space  exploration was valorized in the name of progress. In retrospect, the impulse of competition between Soviet and U.S. space agencies seems less patriotic than colonial, as agencies now vie to extract natural resources from Mars.

 

[1] ACCIONA, “The Waste the Planet Cannot Digest: How Long It Takes to Decay,” Sustainability for All (no date): https://www.activesustainability.com/environment/waste-planet-digest-how-long-it-takes-to-decay/. NDT Education, “Radioactive Half-Life,” NDT Resource Center (2001): https://www.nde-ed.org/EducationResources/HighSchool/Radiography/halflife2.htm.