Current and Recent Projects

Underground/Overground, 2017
Underground/Overground, 2017

Underground/Overground. Roundtable on Art and Radioactive Waste Storage in Belgium, November 2017

Read Z33 curator Ils Huyghens describing the event.

Read Perpetual Uncertainty curator Ele Carpenter’s report of the day, illustrated by Pieter Fannes’ drawings.

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This research event at Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, connected to the Perpetual Uncertainty exhibition, brought together artists, science and technology experts, architects, local community groups, waste management strategists, geologists and writers to critically discuss legacies, temporalities, problems and effects of nuclear waste in Belgium.

Andy Weir presented his Pazugoo project and took part in roundtable discussion focusing around deep time communication through long-term projection.

A publication by Z33 accompanies the event.

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Text. Ils Huyghens, Z33 House for Contemporary Art.
Man-made nuclear fission products will last for up to one million years. Warning messages at nuclear repositories need to last more than 100,000 years, about 4,000 generations. What does this mean in human terms? About 100,000 years ago, Europe was populated by a different species of human, Homo neanderthalensis. We know they had ape-like facial features, and used basic hunting tools, but we have no knowledge of the language they used.

What will humans be like in 100,000 years? What will be the dominant species? How will they think? Will they understand our languages? How to prevent future civilisations from disturbing a nuclear waste repository, and how to ensure their safety? What signs, language and solutions can we use to talk to our future selves? And what should be the message’s content? Do we actually have a language to speak about deep time? How to extend the lifespan of our digital data? Can we keep the memory of nuclear sites alive so that they can be managed in perpetuity, and how can artists be involved in this process?

Nuclear culture itself can be defined as “the complex and varied ways in which people control, respond to, resist, and represent the complex influence of nuclear science and technology” (2016, J.Hogg). Since the beginning of the 21st century, the nuclear industry is turning more and more towards the humanities to explore the conceptual, ethical and social processes needed to make decisions on siting, monitoring, marking and archiving geological repositories for long-lived radioactive waste.

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11 plenary

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Images: roundtable on deep time communication through long-term projection; illustrations by Pieter Fannes; roundtable on intergenerational relay; roundtable on citizen science and participation; representative of community stakeholder group STORA, Geert + artist Alice Bertizzolo; representative of community stakeholder group MONA, Hugo + writer Regine Debatty; Professor Robert Williams; James Accord's roundtable, Hanford site, USA, 1999.