Hello Fukishima (2012)
Hello Fukishima was currated by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle as part of their durational performance at the Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz.
Hello Fukushima is a performance art/installation piece that can take place during the duration
of the PSi conference. Hello Fukushima is a performance about Hyperobjects. According to Tim Morton (a member of the Objective Oriented Ontology philosophy movement) hyperobjects are objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend localization. Hello Fukushima is a reaction to the nuclear fallout of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station meltdown that occurred after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the Japanese coast. An article in the LA Times posted on April 11, 2012, stated that radioactive iodine isotopes have now been found in beds of kelp along the Pacific coast from Laguna Beach to Santa Cruz California (according to a study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach). The biologists believe the radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere from the Fukushima nuclear power facility following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the region in 2011. Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), is a particularly good measure of radioactive material in the environment because it accumulates iodine. Radioactive particles released into the atmosphere, in particular radioactive isotope iodine 131, made its way across the Pacific, then was likely deposited into the ocean during a period of significant rain shortly after the meltdown in Japan. The radioactive particles could enter the food chain when the kelp is consumed by crustaceans and fish.(LA Times http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/calif-kelp-radioactivity-study.html)
Hello Fukushima is a play on words of the Japanese fictional brand character Hello Kitty
(perhaps another hyperobject?) Hello Kitty (ハローキティ ) (full name Kitty White) is a fictional
character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu. She is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow. The character’s first appearance on an item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in Japan in 1974 and brought to the United States in 1976. The character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture that worships all things cute, loveable and adorable. The Hello Kitty trademark has spread globally; Sanrio earned over $1 billion annually in sales outside of Japan, as of 2003. Originally aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty product range has expanded and includes dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, credit cards, chequing accounts, school supplies and stationary, purses, toasters, televisions, other home appliances, massagers, computer equipment, video games, airplanes, songs and theme parks to Lady Gaga videos. Three brightly coloured (possibly only two) pools will be spaced in the cement courtyard of the Museum.
Three brightly coloured (possibly only two) pools will be spaced in the cement courtyard of the Museum. I will fill each pool with water collected from the ocean (Monterrey Bay). Within each pool I will place pieces of giant kelp. The kelp has a slimy texture to it and the smell of it reminds me of the ocean. In one pool I will place a shattered mirror along the bottom of it so when you look into the pool you will see the shattered mirror and reflections of both oneself, the giant kelp and the ocean water.
I am often not aware of an object as itself until it breaks. I do not notice the mirror, beyond its use to reflect my own image, until the mirror shatters. Once it does I notice what it is made of, the unique cracks in the glass, the layers of the glass etc. The similar can be said of Fukushima. Humans ignore the fact that nuclear power plants are producing radioactive isotopes in mass quantities around the world, until of course a giant wave smashes a plant to pieces, and out spills its toxic contents.
The two other pools in the exhibit will be used as part of the durational performance. I will step into the pools and feel the slimy kelp. I will also be stepping into water that we now know if full of radioactive isotopes. My reaction to Fukushima is to want to keep at distance the horror and disbelief of it. Yet for this exhibit, I, along with any participants who want to join in, will step into the grossness and the sliminess of the water and notice what it feels like. I feel like there is nothing else we can do, the isotopes are not going anywhere quickly. With our wet feet, we will slowly walk around the courtyard. We will leave wet footprints that will spread out from the pools and eventually cover the whole courtyard. Our footprints will evaporate in time and so the piece will be a continuously making of new footprints and an evaporation of the ones we leave behind. This portion of the piece will continue until all of the water in the two pools is spread out via our feet.
As the water evaporates into air where does the radioactive isotopes that have a half life of 24 100 years old go? How can I start to account for these objects and live in a world where they will invertibly bang up against me. Like a Hello Kitty bracelet I can feel and examine only a small piece of this massively distributed global phenomenon. How do we account for these massive non human, non sentient entities that are now making contact with my self and everyone and everything else (especially if you come to Santa Cruz for holiday to play on the beautiful beaches and jump in the cool ocean water)? In placing the ocean water in the pools I am bringing the outside inside. I am bringing the ocean and the seaweed and the radioactive isotopes into our backyard kiddy pools, in a container where we are forced to jump into them. I am saying hello to Fukushima and its radioactive spew (that has gone from “inside” to “outside”). I am seeing Fukushima in my own backyard as a local manifestation of something that is so massively distributed in time and space that I cannot really grasp it. I cannot really see the radioactive isotopes, or feel it or know it. I just have a anxious feeling in my belly and a feeling of sadness as I stand in and with the water and wonder.