Nuclear Storytelling

The Nuclear Storytelling project explores how and what to communicate about the problem of nuclear harm into the far-future. For this, a variety of mediums are used, including photographic and literary essays. To date, the project highlights include the establishment of a memory institution, an exhibition shown internationally, a special issue, and a co-authored book under advanced contract:

*

Chapter I:
Archive of Nuclear Harm [2012-ongoing]

The Archive of Nuclear Harm exhibits, screens, publishes and collects materials on life and death in the nuclear age. We also design and deliver educational programs. Our mission is to create a resource deep into the nuclear future, that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Items of interest include artworks and other cultural artefacts that explore the full range of harms—to bodies and the biosphere—that are inflicted by both the civilian and military applications of nuclear technology, as well as the universal problems of nuclear contamination and waste. Since the legacy of the nuclear age must be conceived on timescales of up to one million years and threaten the continued safe operating conditions of Earth’s biosphere, this will be a memory institution like no other. The Archive was established in 2012 and is currently a contributing project of the Mistra and Formas-sponsored Environmental Humanities Collaboratory at Linköping University in Sweden (2016-18). Previously, the Archive was part of the Nuclear Futures partnership initiative, a three-year arts and culture program sponsored by the Australia Council for the Arts (2014-16).

Role: principal investigator
Status:
ongoing [2012-ongoing]
Output/s: 18x film screenings, 1x article and 1x delivered paper

 To date, this sub-project has resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Manifesto for an Archive of Nuclear Harm’, Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, Summer 2019. [PDF available on request]
  2. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Marking nuclear harm: Atomic art for the Anthropocene’. Paper presented at the From Trinity to Fukushima and Beyond: New Approaches to Nuclear Culture and the Nuclear Arts in the 20th and 21st Century, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada, March 10, 2017. [PDF available on request]
  3. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 9, 2017.
  4. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 9, 2017.
  5. Screening of Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), Department of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia, October 2, 2017.
  6. Screening of Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015), University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.
  7. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Université de Montréal,Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.
  8. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Université de Montréal,Montréal, Canada, March 11, 2017.
  9. Screening of Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions(2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.
  10. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.
  11. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, January 26, 2017.
  12. Nuclear Humanities: An Intensive Workshop, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 24-26, 2016.
  13. Screening of Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions(2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.
  14. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s 10 Minutes to Midnight (2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.
  15. Screening of Paul Brown et al’s, Ngurini (Searching) (2015), Maxey Museum, Whitman College, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016.
  16. Screening of Peter Kuran’s Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie (1995), Chamber, Brunswick, Australia, August 29, 2016.
  17. Screening of Mori Masaki’s Barefoot Gen: Part Two (1983), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, August 9, 2016.
  18. Screening of Mori Masaki’s Barefoot Gen: Part One(1983), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, August 6, 2016.
  19. Screening of Mark Cousin and Mogwai’s Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise (2015), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, April 26, 2016.
  20. Screening of Paul Johannessen, Jeffrey Jousan and Ivan Kovac’s Women of Fukushima (2012), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, March 12, 2016.
  21. Screening of Todd Chandler and Jeff Stark’s Let Them Believe (2011), Chamber, Brunswick VIC, Australia, April 26, 2016.

Sponsor/s: Australian Council for the Arts and Alphaville

*

Chapter II:
Nuclear Deferral [2015-12,016]

To enter Onkalo—the world’s first deep geological nuclear waste repository—is to venture into the far-future. My experience there prompted me to reflect uponthe encounter between humanity and ecology, and to view its documentation as future cultural heritage. However, since radioactivity is a form of energy for which people have no sense for—you cannot see it, hear it, smell it, or feel it—I found myself taking two sideways glances. For this I picked up my camera in an attempt to visualise nuclear harm, rather than merely continue to write about it. Copies of the images have been fired onto stoneware ceramic fired at 1200°C and deposited into salt deposits dating more than forty million years old at the Memory of Mankind facility in Hallstatt, Austria. The stoneware medium and salt storage method promises to preserve the images for at least 10,000 years.

Role: principal investigator
Status:
complete [2015-12,016]
Output/s: 5x exhibitions, 1x book chapter and 1 delivered paper

Nuclear Deferral has thus far been exhibited in Australia, Scotland, Canada and the United States. It will remain on “exhibit” inside the Memory of Mankind until at least the year 12,016. To date, this sub-project has resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Nuclear deferral’, in Livia Monnet and Peter C. van Wyck (eds.), Toxic Immanence: Nuclear Legacies, Futures, and the Place of Twenty-First Century Nuclear Environmental Humanities, McGill-Queens University Press, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  2. N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, “4S Making and Doing” at the Society for Social Studies of Science Annual Conference, Sydney International Convention Centre, August 29-September 1, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  3. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Marking nuclear harm: Atomic art for the Anthropocene’. Paper presented at the From Trinity to Fukushima and Beyond: New Approaches to Nuclear Culture and the Nuclear Arts in the 20th and 21st Century, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada, March 10, 2017. [PDF available on request]
  4. N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, “Postcards from the Anthropocene: Unsettling the Geopolitics of Representation” symposium at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 22-24, 2017. [LINK]
  5. N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, Maxey Museum for Man and Nature, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, United States, September 26-28, 2016. [LINK]
  6. N.A.J. Taylor with Andrew Hustwaite, Nuclear Deferral, c3 Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne, Australia, August 17-September 11, 2016. Curated by N.A.J. Taylor. [LINK]
  7. N.A.J. Taylor, Nuclear Deferral, Memory of Mankind, Hallstadt, Austria, August 17, 2016-12,016.

Download (PDF, 2.06MB)

Sponsor/s: Whitman College, University of Montreal and the University of Queensland

*

Chapter III:
Narrating the Nuclear Anthropocene [2016-19]

International Relations (IR), as a traditionally Western discipline, “hyper-separates” humanity from nature both politically and ethically. Its tendency toward state centric understandings of human relations often misses or elides other political and social processes at work globally. At another level, the anthropocentric approach focuses only on human processes. Many critical approaches in IR seek to rectify this to create a more complex picture of global politics and this book seeks to add to these explorations. This is done to be better able to understand and respond to the complex issues facing human and non-human communities affected by the changes created by the Anthropocene. To begin to address this more complex world, this book desires to open a dialogue by twinning a new method in IR—a narrative approach to politics—to the effects of the use of nuclear materials for weapons and energy. This serves two purposes: firstly, to shift the focus from a human centred understanding of nuclear materials as only strategic material to one that acknowledges the effects of nuclear radiation as not discriminating between human and non-humans so readily. Secondly, a narrative approach vis-a-vis this topic aids in diffusing the state and anthropocentric nature of scholarship on nuclear materials as is usually found in traditional IR. For this, we draw upon the insights from our earlier convened panel and special issue of narrative IR titled, “Internal Relations” (Borderlands, 2018).  The narrative approach is supported through case studies and site visits to various Manhattan Project National Historic Park sites, including  Trinity, in New Mexico, among others. This dual approach begins to frame IR as a wider project of biospheric worlding, or cosmo-politics, rather than only matters of state and national concern.

Role: co-principal investigator with Stefanie Fishel
Status:
signed [2017-19]
Output/s: 1x special issue, 2x articles, 1x editorial and 2x delivered papers

Narrating the Nuclear Anthropocene is a co-authored book project (with Stefanie Fishel) under advanced contract to Routledge’s Worlding Beyond the West book series. The expected delivery is December 2019. To date, this sub-project has resulted in the following outputs:

  1. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Towards a narrative nuclear politics’. Paper to be presented at the Telling the Stories of Radiation Exposure Workshop, Environmental Arts and Humanities, Oregon State University, June 21-22, 2018. [PDF available on request]
  2. Stefanie Fishel and N.A.J. Taylor (eds.), “Internal Relations: Theorizing Distant Strangers, Narrating Ourselves”, Borderlands, Vol.16 No.2, 2017. [Including contributions by: Jesse Crane-Seeber, Stefanie Fishel, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Isaac Kamola, Nicholas J. Rowland, N.A.J. Taylor, and Delacey Tedesco.] [LINK]
  3. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Worming the world’, Borderlands, Vol.16 No.2, 2017, pp.1-9. [PDF available on request]
  4. Stefanie Fishel and N.A.J. Taylor with Jesse Crane-Seeber, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Isaac Kamola, Nicholas J. Rowland, and Delacey Tedesco, ‘Editorial: Baring our Internal Relations?’, Borderlands, Vol.16 No.2, 2017, pp.1-9. [PDF available on request]
  5. Internal Relations, 57th International Studies Association Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States, March 17, 2016. Co-convener with Stefanie Fishel.
  6. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Nuclear visions: Suffering between living and dying’. Paper presented at the Creative Arts and Nuclear Futures conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, August 7, 2015. [PDF available on request]
  7. N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The biosphere and me’, Journal of Narrative Politics, Vol.1 No.2, Fall 2015, pp.153-66. [PDF]

Sponsor/s: Whitman College, University of Alabama, and the University of Queensland

*

Chapter IV:
Experiencing Chernobyl [in development]

An experimental publication of narrative nuclear politics, Experiencing Chernobyl, is in the very early stages of development with Redi Koobak at Linköping University and several post-socialist artists. We attempt to write—using words and images—the personal narrative of a man who served as a “liquidator”, or conscripted cleaner, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. By focusing exclusively on one man’s experience and legacy of Chernobyl, we take a highly contextual approach, whose archive is not the secondary literature, but family history. Decontextualised studies of nuclear events often deem their very subject of study “unthinkable”, yet by giving voice to a victim of Chernobyl through familial connection, we situate Soviet nuclear colonialism as future cultural heritage. Experiencing Chernobyl therefore performs a narrative nuclear history that connects a familial past with a universal future.

Role: co-principal investigator with Redi Koobak and others
Status: in development
Output/s: n/a
Sponsor/s: n/a