Far from the cities, out in the dust or the taiga, is a text that was written by us. Though the edges of this text may be smudged by time, floods, sand, and regrowth, its words are legible from space, and they tell stories of extractions, explosions, and burials. This text refuses to be erased, a physical insistence that can feel surprising in the the midst of the renewal and amnesia of everyday experience. Cities overturn themselves, subdivisions are shoddily built and fall into disrepair, we bemoan our lack of historical consciousness. Meanwhile, our inadvertent monuments are lastingly built on the fringes, forming the immovable collateral of our desires. These are the places where our dream of limitlessness meets the limit of the cold, hard ground and alters the face of the earth. Unlike the other stories we tell, this one is not abstract. It is written in the dirt and will be readable long after the writers have forgotten it.
[ click the images for large / scrollable versions ]
strong>Athabasca Oil Sands (Syncrude Open Surface Mine), Alberta, Canada
2. Unknown Detonation Sites in the Nevada Test Site
3. Fracking Patterns in Central Colorado
The Hanford Site is a decommissioned nuclear production site which, among other things, produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped over Nagasaki in 1945. While much significant research was conducted at the site, nuclear waste was mishandled and some of it is known to have escaped into the Columbia River. Other waste was inexpertly stored in tanks that were not well designed for the amount of time the waste would actually be there. The result is the most contaminated nuclear site in the country, containing two thirds of the country's high-level radioactive waste. The Hanford Site includes several old reactor sites and an operational nuclear power plant; the 200 Area (below) is where crews are currently dealing with the liquid waste in the underground tanks. Solid waste is stored permanently in a landfill (the solid rectangular area in the center, slightly to the left).
Special thanks to Jack Huneke and Julie Harcos at the Stonehouse Residency, where I completed this series.