Acme. Labs Variation 3


Photographed in an ultra-violet and fluorescent light sequences. 12 feet by 20 feet by 6 feet-Installed in the artist’s studio and Holland Tunnel Art Projects (1998). Mixed mediums including; sound, light effects, and fog machines. Sound track remixed from the 1976 album “Radioactivity” by Kraftwerk.

The piece attempted to create an artificial environment that highlighted the allusive aspects of hazardous radio-nuclides. With a timed relay lighting system, sequenced “explosions” of fluorescent light would illuminate on appropriated landscape paintings revealing ideal seemingly untouched painted scenes. The lights would flicker out then leaving the paintings to be seen under ceiling hung ultra-violet lights. Phosphorescent pigments embedded in the surface of the paintings literally glowed hues of bright blue, white, green, and orange creating a panoramic day-glow landscape.

The paintings were purchased when I traveled to document commercial nuclear reactors and national laboratories. The paintings usually are purchased from rural artists, or from retail galleries located within a small radius of the visited facility. The paintings were manipulated by adding pulverized heavy metals; materials that are transparent to the naked eye but could be seen in ultra-violet lighting. The paintings are exhibited in eccentric decorative frames symbolically painted magenta and yellow, colors the United States military uses to mark radiation danger areas.

Sound design was added by sound engineer Evelyn X. whose original score included excerpts from “RADIOACTIVITY” a 1976 album by KRAFTWERK, and a 1956 public broadcast with US celebrity Bob Hope discussing the advantages of Atomic superiority and the benefits of the then newly developed Hydrogen Bomb.

LUMBRICUS TERRESTRIS FERMI or THE FERMI WORMS are a group of slush latex/special make-up effects interpretations of gigantic Oligochaetas or common earthworms. Oligochaetas are represented by the phylum Annelida or the segmented worms. Annelids are found virtually all over the world including all seven continents and in all the connecting waters. In the Americas common species include Lumbricus terrestris (nightcrawlers) and Hirudo medicinalis (medicinal leeches) Earth worms play an important role in bio-systems both as a food source for small predators and as miniature recycling factories. Feeding primarily on soil and decaying plant matter, worms help break-down organic debris.

Evolution has gifted Annelids with the ability to breathe, absorb water, protect against infection, and excrete wastes through a mucous covered skin membrane. Unfortunately, this blessing becomes an Achille’s heel when specimens are exposed to industrial contaminates. Just as essential nutrients can be absorbed and/or consumed by a given animal, so can malevolent chemicals. As is often the case with pollutants, a residual build-up of hazardous materials forms inside the body. Depending on the variable of exposure the organism can sometimes become a literal micro-warehouse of environmentally detrimental chemicals.

The sculptural series the FERMI WORMS range in size from 2 feet up to 15 feet. The worms sat immersed in a pool of water activated only by glowing pigments in the surface of the latex. Miniature dry ice machines housed in fabricated “specimen” trays provided fog. The sculptures were satirically dedicated to late Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. Fermi is most notable for his actions pertaining to the development of the first successful self sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago. His later interventions at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee assisted in the manufacturing of the atomic bombs.