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Eve Andree Laramee
Eve Andree Laramee
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    Halfway to Invisible

    Derrida defines “absolute invisibility” as standing outside of range and register of visual perception; phenomena that can only be perceived through the other senses or detected by other means. It is absolutely outside vision, and thus, secret.

    I address the nonvisibility of radiation as “secret visibility” in the installation, Halfway to Invisible, (2009) commissioned by Emory University Center for Creativity. Because of Emory’s proximity to the Center for Disease Control, I chose the CDC as the intended audience by focusing on the epidemiological and genetic/biological impact of uranium mining in the American Southwest. Between 1949 and 1989, these mines produced more than 225,000,000 tons of uranium ore. This activity affected a large number of Native American nations, including the Laguna, Navajo, Zuni, Southern Ute, Ute Mountain, Hopi, Acoma and other Pueblo cultures. Many of these peoples worked in the 4,000 mines, mills and processing plants in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. These workers were not only poorly paid, they were seldom informed of dangers nor were they given appropriate protective gear. The government, mine owners, scientific, and health communities were all well aware of the hazards of working with radioactive materials at this time. Due to the Cold War demand for increasingly destructive and powerful nuclear weapons, these laborers were both exposed to and brought home large amounts of radiation in the form of dust on their clothing and skin.

    Epidemiologic studies of the families of these workers have shown increased incidents of radiation-induced cancers, miscarriages, cleft palates and other birth defects. Halfway to Invisible questions how these events may have influenced evolutionary processes and produced genetic casualties in these communities.

    Is our atomic legacy producing genotoxic effects in indigenous human populations? If so, what is the extent of DNA damage, and how might this affect these populations in the future?

    The installation includes sixty small light-boxes containing photographic transparencies of radial gene maps and cancer cells with superimposed text, as well as micro- photographs of extremophile organisms currently under study as bioremediation agents for radioactive waste. A viewer-activated kinetic sculpture made from laboratory animal cages, a video sculpture interpretation of genetic mutation housed in a Haliburton case containing Cold War era artifacts, and a video projection of genetic material breaking off from a cell immersed in a solution of uranyl acetate.

    Wed, Oct 17, 2012  Permanent link

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