Location: Filmtheater ‘t Hoogt
“With the fantastic illustration of the dromosphere of the speed of light in a vacuum, we are at least to question the witnesses, those of Chernobyl, for instance, for in 1986 the time of the accident suddenly became for them, and finally for all of us, the ‘accident in time’”.
– Paul Virilio
Chernobyl has irremediably infected our perception of time. A few seconds: that’s all it took to lose control of the reactor. There wasn’t any more time for those who were exposed to a fatal dose of radioactivity. The explosion was only visible for a moment, but seemed to last for an eternity. In only a few days the radioactive cloud flew all over the world, infecting a great number of people. But it will take several millennia until the released radioactive isotopes are completely neutralised. This selection considers the rise of the nuclear threat after 1945 and the application of the technological principles of mass production to mass destruction.
Let Me Count the Ways: Minus 10, 9, 8, 7 – Leslie Thornton
USA, 2004, video, 22:00 min
Let Me Count the Ways is a series of meditations on violence and fear, and their reverberations on cultural history. The episodes have been built out of a mixture of personal reflections and diverse image material which present the phenomenology of fear with an intensity that breaks abruptly the border between past and present. Just as in earlier work, Thornton explores the social effects of new technologies and media, but here she goes deeper into autobiographical territory, suggesting we are all involved in these developments.
On the Third Planet from the Sun – Pavel Medvedev
Russia, 2006, 35mm, 32:00 min
A portrait of life in the Arkhangelsk area near the Arctic Circle in Northern Russia, where the Soviet army carried out tests of the hydrogen bomb in 1961. The local Pomors still live the way they have for centuries; preoccupied with fishing, hunting and growing plants. But the nearby rocket launching site has brought with it a new type of hunt, the hunt for “space garbage” which they sell as scrap iron or to use in housekeeping and farming. Medvedev delivers a striking visual exploration of environmental destruction and the rebirth of a community.
Atomic Park – Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
France, 2003, 35mm, 8:00 min
Shot on location at White Sands, New Mexico, very near Trinity Site – the location of the first atomic explosion in July 1945 – Atomic Park captures sunbathers and tourists taking in the striking sun: the place is now home to a recreation area as well as a military base for research. The film presents a national park, a white desert, a natural exhibition space where each presence, each movement can give way to different interpretations and to a new reading of the setting. On the soundtrack we hear faintly the voice of Marilyn Monroe
in her desperate and accusatory monologue about manly violence in The Misfits (John Huston, 1961). Partially obscured by a degree of over-exposure, Atomic Park evokes the contradictory experiences of leisure and danger.
Crossroads – Bruce Conner
USA, 1976, 35mm, 36:00 min
“From material recently declassified by the Defense Department, Conner has construct- ed a 36-minute work, editing together 27 different takes of the early atomic explosions at Bikini, all un-altered found footage in its original black and white. Conner uncovered a vivid historical account of the Bikini tests written for the Joint Task Force (Army and Navy) by W. A. Shurcliff. Interestingly, what one would expect to be a dry, methodical de- scription is in fact dramatic and fascinating, revealing how impossible it was to suppress the bomb’s overwhelming power. This original state of consciousness is what Conner wants us to re-experience in his film. What were the circumstances surrounding these tests, as described by Shurcliff?” (William Moritz & Beverly O’Neill, 1978). Music by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley.