This proposal seeks to confront problems in the disciplines of art and architecture in an ecological age. (1) Our infrastructure and aesthetic culture does not attune itself to the ever present crisis of nuclear waste, the bi-product of nuclear energy, which stays radioactive and dangerous for at least 10,000 years. Rather, we build in such a way as to reinforce a ‘reassuring world picture,’ as if to suggest there is an isolatable arena into which we can meaningfully sweep the radioactive dust. The notion of such an away, an amorphous, infinite background, is congenial to the economic view of nature as a pool of raw materials from which products and value are generate, a view which operates tragically, that is without self-limitation. (2) As long as the worlds of art and architecture are repressed by the trauma of finance, they are the unconscious, impotent spectators of their own disabling conditions, all the while masquerading in grand empty postures of criticality. We may say, art and architecture are duplicitous, and such is the nature of our time, that they have dematerialized to such a degree that mimics the dematerialization of capital.
Even though we have been sort of clogged, that is to say, suffocated, blindly hitting our heads against the barriers of the capitalist imaginary, we are still capable of altering the status quo. This is our imperative today. Taking a subjective and confrontational approach to aesthetic and structural research and practice provides a productive terrain to counter dominant ideologies and their spatial articulations.
Our research into simple ancient alchemy has yielded promising results: the radioactive pulse of nuclear waste grows quiet when encased in gold. The soft, malleable metal slowly decreases the half-life of waste, meaning the duration of radioactive harm is moderated. Though this is only a semi-solution, it is one step, one marker, toward a way of being in the world that does not operate under illusions of an ontic equilibrium, or an away.
We therefore propose a museum whose walls and floors are fortified by nuclear waste encased in gold. The structure seeks to give things their look by implicitly establishing what things are, and provide an outlook on an implicit sense of what matters because, it would make more sense to design in a dark ecological way, admitting our coexistence with the toxic substances we have created and exploited, than to build structures that overcompensate for a negatively under-determination and mime a therapeutic effect for complications which lack real causes, while leaving real problems in tact.