Atomic Selfie

by Luca Federici

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Description

I was almost one year old when on Oct. 30th, 1961, for political and propagandist reasons, was detonated the most powerful atomic bomb on earth, it was the Tsar bomb, which originally was to have an energy calculated in 100 megatons, then the physicist Andrei Sakharov, who headed the team of scientists, worried about the radioactive fallout, convinced the inventor of the test, the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to reduce it to 50 Mt. The bomb although detuned had an energy greater than 3125 that of Hiroshima (16 kt) and obviously the effects were devastating, considering that the wave generated by the explosion broke the windows of the houses to 700-900 km from the epicenter and the originated seismic wave was perceived all over the world.
Since then 54 years have passed and as you can imagine the military nuclear technology has increasingly developed, the "old" Zar bomb weighed 27 tons, had a diameter of 2.1 meters, and it measured in length 8 meters, therefore for transport it required an aircraft designed for that purpose. Today the thermonuclear bombs are much smaller, lightweight, versatile, for example the US B61-12, dislocated also in Italy at NATO bases, has a weight of 315-325 kg, is 3.58 m long, with a diameter of 33 cm, then transport can count on many types of bombers and fighter-bombers. It has aroused surprise and alarm the announcement by North Korea (May 2015), who said they had miniaturized nuclear warheads in order to install them on long-range ballistic missiles, but it is ascertained that at least since 1990, several states, such as USA, Russia and Israel, are in possession of mini portable nuclear weapons; just look at Wikipedia "backpack nuke" or "mini-nuke".
It is estimated that at this time the nuclear warheads at the disposal of the various powers and superpowers (USA, Russia, France, UK, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), amount to around 17.000 of which almost 4,000 ready to the throwing. In January 2015, considered the race for modernization of nuclear weapons by different states, scientists of the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists", who run the Doomsday Clock, or the clock of the apocalypse, have moved the needle to three minutes from midnight (midnight = end of the world), exactly as in 1984 when a nuclear conflict between the US and USSR seemed imminent. Today the risk of a nuclear conflict is certainly high, in fact, as already in relief, the US and Russia, despite the ongoing disarmament treaties, have increased the funds for the modernization of nuclear arsenals; besides North Korea systematically threatens of war the USA and South Korea, but also worries the announcement of the Islamic State (ISIS) to want to be equipped with nuclear weapons for terroristic attacks in western countries.
The experience of man's life on earth, as it has been for thousands of years, at any moment could change drastically even considering, at best, a limited nuclear war. We all hope that these weapons of mass destruction ready to hit only serve as a deterrent, given the real change of humanity self-destruction, as it has been since the end of World War II until today. But I'm starting to be distressed, therefore I feel the need to make something to exorcize the fear for the constant threat of the nuclear weapons. One of the effects of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that most impressed me is the shadows printed on the walls by the flash of the explosion: in the moment of the splitting of the atom of uranium (or plutonium) a large amount of energy is released, it generates a kind sun-fireball, whose thermal radiation, (they speak of hundreds of thousand of degrees), vaporize and / or carbonize everything is in the immediate vicinity. For a whole series of chemical-physical phenomena, the bodies and objects, interposed to the propagation of thermal radiation, absorbing part of the heat, leave their own shade engraved on the rear surfaces. What is more impressive is that the shadows fixed on the walls, on the steps, on the floors are not only of objects, but also of human bodies, that at the time of the explosion were incinerated instantly by the huge heat. Since the etched shadows have a similarity with those made with the photographic technique, I thought about using this last one to print shadows as if they were made with a nuclear explosion; in other words as if I used the atomic bomb to create artistic prints. The most congenial technique to create this type of prints is certainly that of the "gumoil", the printing process devised by Karl Koenig in 1990, it is a variant of the process of contact printing of gum bichromate, in particular, instead of using a negative is used a positive, that must have the same dimension of the final image, the prints also have the characteristic of being at high-contrast and therefore without intermediate grays, another very interesting aspect, as dye they use the traditional oil colors, same that the greatest part of the painters have been using for centuries.

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1 comment

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  1. Gabriel
    Aug 22, 2016, 9:00:55 AM

    Sorprende l'abilità di cogliere il 'fattore arte' in una cosa così triste e angosciante come la bomba atomica e le varie dinamiche che portano la società umana, quasi paradossalmente, ad avere terrore di altri uomini.
    Decisamente un'idea unica.
    Molto bello.

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