Digital access to this material is pending artist's approval. Materials may be viewed onsite at the Goldsen Archive, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University.
I have always been both impressed and influenced by Breton's statement that "Beauty will be
convulsive or not at all." Such a phrase seems to state eloquently the criterion for profound life
experience, not just of beauty, but of a wide variety of physiologically and psychologically
intense perceptions and behaviors. When there is a mental or physical convulsion, the layers of
mediation that mold the social into a mass hallucination are peeled back, and there is a moment
of clarity born of direct experience. Unfortunately, even the most constructive of activities that
conjure such moments are illegal, or at the ery least, socially unacceptable. Part of Breton's
worry was that (Western) art had been purged of its unacceptable convulsive qualities. Indeed,
art in the West seems to ha e become an art of reflection. The goal is not to experience work, but
to stand back from it and reflect on what its message might be. Given this formula, the peak of
pleasure is obtained through alienated analysis. This notion certainly reflects the soaring levels of
separation that mark the decline of the social in general. There is nothing convulsive to be found
in spectacularized (mediated) experience, in art or in anything else.
Radiation Burn will be a two channel video installation exposing the hoax of the "dirty bomb." While
incendiary weapons are used in Iraq for the sole purpose of creating fear, symbolic boogey men are used to
create fear on the home front. Chief among these spooks is the "dirty bomb." The "dirty bomb" may be a
frightening thought, but it is without basis in reality. Even the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (which has
every interest in maintaining the myth) has had to admit that, "Most RDDs [radiological dispersive devices]
would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness--the conventional explosive itself
would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material." In this experiment, I will grow human
tissue and put it through a series of low-level radiation exposure tests. In conjunction, I will research the
introduction of the "dirty bomb" concept to the general public by former Attorney General John Ashcroft in
2003, and how the media made the "dirty bomb" into a probable and plausible terrorist action. By weaving
these two lines of research together I will arrive at a final product.
Marching Plague is a three part project that includes a book on the absurd history
of germ warfare; an installation that chronicles how hoax germ threats started
germ warfare programs in the US, UK, and Japan along with a live
demonstration of how the hoax is done; and the final part is a film we are
making primarily consisting of a recreation of the Isle of Lewis Plague Trials
(using a safe simulant of course).
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