Site A

  Site A is the non-descriptive name given by the U.S. Department of Energy for a small clearing in the woods of Palos Forest Preserve in Cook County.  It is what has been buried a Site A that makes it so interesting.  In the clearing the only evidence of this sites past history is engraved on a stone at the end of a dirt path.  The stone reads as follows:
 

THE WORLD’S FIRST NUCLEAR REACTOR

WAS REBUILT AT THIS SITE IN 1943 AFTER INITIAL OPERATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO THIS REACTOR (CP2) AND THE FIRST HEAVY WATER MODERATED REACTOR (CP3) WERE MAJOR FACILTIES AROUND WHICH DEVELOPED THE ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY THIS SITE WAS RELEASED BY THE LABORATORY IN 1956 AND THE U.S. ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION BURIED THE REACTORS HERE.

 

Site A ceiling

 

Site A, Detail of video projection on ceiling

view additional images

Site A Field image

Site A , Marker Stone in Winter 2008

 

Site A is the first artwork in a series of robotic video works that I have begun.  This new work investigates place and memory through robotic video projection.  From numerous hikes out to the location a computer program was created to choreograph the movements of a video camera mounted on a motorized tripod.  Re-contextualized in the exhibition space, the video is projected using the same mechanism following exactly the same choreographed path in the original filming.  The projections will reach all the surfaces of the room.  The sky and tree tops projected on the ceiling and upper wall create a window that transforms the existing exhibition space.  The audio recording of this event contains the natural sounds of the site.  The cicada’s were at there peak and there was a light wind, when the video and audio were recorded.  At one point the sounds of flora and fauna are overtaken by the sound of a jet overhead.   As the projector tilts down the view of the land is revealed on the lower wall and floor.  The viewer is not aware of the history of this site until the final images are projected on the lower wall showing the engraved stone with the paragraph above.  I am interested in the “natural” images projected and the interaction with the architectural space. 


I am interested in the dualities that exist in such spaces as Site A.  We live in a world of contradictions and paradoxes. There are actually 2 sites including the one mentioned in the Palos Forest Preserve.  Plot M is the other site which is mostly radioactive material.  Here the land which we now use for recreation and preservation covers a nuclear waste site.  I see this as an example of the current situation in our world; where we are forced to live with our past.  I want the viewer to find the space seductive both through image and sound and juxtapose this with the sites history and reality.

Movie Image

Site A, Basel Switzerland 2008, Quick Time

 

site a movie mvcc

Site A, at Moraine Valley Community College,

2010, Quick Time (click to play)