Modeling Catastrophe

catastrophe model

As part of an extensive artistic research project I am examining methods of communicating occurences of catastrophe by usage of different types of digital as well as physical miniature models.
One of the initial points of reference to this project was an encounter with a German retiree who had built a miniature model of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where a meltdown had occured subsequent to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
As source material he used pictures he had found in the Internet and in newspapers. “To show to the youth what actually happens when a nuclear power plant gets out of control,” he held lectures in schools using the miniature model to explain the events. His battery-powered Fukushima-model has loudspeakers and lights; incense sticks simulate smoke.
In a recorded interview he explains his motivations, references and the visual mechanisms of his model. His incentive being to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear power initially, he somewhat revised his standpoint, referring to a lack of concrete alternatives. Whereas his model features miniature solar panels that he had attached to the roof of one of the buildings, he would show scrap parts of actual solar panels, pointing to the disadvantages of solar power as an alternative form of energy.
However, in his opinion the model had fulfilled its purpose, as the German government had decided to phase-out nuclear power plants. Having stopped giving talks to students after the governments’ decision had been ratified, he decided to pass the model on to interested persons, running an ad online.

Modeling Catastrophe, 2013, Fukushima-miniature model, wooden stand, HD-video projection. 27 min, installation view: Future Ruins, Bas Silo, Bergen Arkitektskole, Bergen, Norway.

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