About 1001 SUNS

1001 SUNS is a documentary essay exploring the controversial qualities and quantities of the nuclear age. It will be released to the public as a collection of installations, lectures and a cinematic feature length film. The project originally started in the year 2001 and is currently in production.
1001 SUNS will be presented and told on a variety of platforms including a cinematic documentary, a web documentary, an interactive installation, a book and a series of lectures.
We are happy to announce that we will release the algorithmic documentary as an interactive installation at the ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany in 2015.

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Director’s statement:

Radioactivity – the very word awakens a multitude of controversial thoughts and emotions in us. From the hazards of nuclear power plants, the fall-out from atomic bombs, the irradiation of food and the issue of nuclear waste disposal on the one hand to treatments for cancer and medical applications on the other. From its avantgardistic discovery in the 19th century with the promise of mankind’s reign over all matter to it’s applications and disasters of the 20th century, radioactivity has become one of the most controversial and feared words of the 21st century, a byword for suspicion, protest and danger.

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Still, radioactivity is natural and universal. All the building blocks and elements of nature were created in supernovae and suns powered by nuclear forces. Without the light of the sun, life would probably not exist. On the other hand, human created elements like plutonium do not naturally occur in nature and are unknown for the lifeforms on Earth, therefore leaving them almost no chance for adaption.

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On the one hand the atomic age reveals our massive dependency on energy, on the other hand it’s inner workings and origins remain widely unknown. Most of us profit from nuclear power somehow, but tend to neglect it’s existence. The ecological, economical, scientific, social and political dependencies have grown too complex.

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A reason for this may be the complex underlying theory and the quantitative scientific language that transports and establishes the nuclear mindset: the language of probability, threshold and quantity. Many aspects concerning the quality of the nuclear age remain therefore inexpressible. We are in fact lacking the means to culturally comprehend the complexities of the atomic age.

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Even Robert Oppenheimer quotes the religious Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita as he witnesses the first nuclear bomb flash in the year 1945 at the Trinity site in the desert sands of Alamogordo, New Mexico, incapable to describe the light of the nuclear sun with the scientific language that created it:

If the radiance of a thousand suns
were to burst into the sky,
that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One.
I am become Death, the shatterer of Worlds.*

Radioactivity has become part of our long-term cultural memory: a column of society expressing once more the human fascination for fire, the Promethean gift.

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*The Hindu word denoting “Death” should rather be translated with the word “Time”. Interestingly, in Hindu mythology, the Time God is described as having a “body like the Sun”.

Sources:

  • “Brighter than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists”, a book by Robert Jungk first published in English in 1958
  • “The Particle Explosion” by Frank Close, Michael Martin and Christine Sutton

all photos by 1001suns.com

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