Viral Fictions: Navigating Time in Search of Memorial Markers for the Radio-Toxic Landscape of La Hague

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis

Authors

  • Agnès Villette

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.37522/aaav.100.2021.63

Keywords:

nuclear history, nuclear aesthetics, nuclear marker, nuclear fiction, La Hague, artificial intelligence literature

Abstract

Nuclear events have inscribed the 20th century into a new chemical temporality, that generally escapes our scrutiny due to radioactivity’s invisibility. Radioactive particles keep falling back to earth since nuclear tests peaked during the Cold War, they form an iterative invisible presence that is coated in political invisibility. Through films and fictions, the paper traces haunted images that keep coming back. Two distinct geographies are weaved together, that of West Coast American deserts, where numerous tests were conducted, and that of the nuclear peninsula of La Hague, in France. The recurring metaphors of dust and mist, not only characterise the two landscapes, but illustrate how radioactive particles literally journey and affect natural environments and activate the trope of contamination. Viral Fictions address the issue of creating a nuclear marker for La Hague’s burial site. Underlying the fragility of material cultures and the aporia of projecting knowledge through deep time, the article creates a possible im- material fictional nuclear marker for La Hague. Merging a set of references from local folk oral legends with the ability of fiction to transmit forms of knowledge and imaginary archetypes, Viral Fictions uses AI algorithmic software to generate speculative forms of fictions and visuals.

Author Biography

Agnès Villette

Agnès Villette (based in Normandy, France) is a PhD candidate at the Winchester School of Art. Her practice-based doctorate in Nuclear Aesthetics investigates the Radioactive Ruins of the Norman territory of La Hague. Trained in literature, she gained an Agrégation in Modern Literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and a Master in Art Photography at the London College of Communication, UK. She is currently developing four art projects at the intersection of photography, writing and theory, such as the photographic series Alien of the Species exploring invasive insects and entomology, Beta Bunker, researching bunker architecture and its current transformation into data centres, Haunted, her PhD project about the Norman peninsula and its nuclear Cold War legacy and, finally, Landemer, a non-fiction novel based on an unsolved crime case that happened in 1969, in Cherbourg.

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Published

2020-06-01

How to Cite

Villette, A. (2020). Viral Fictions: Navigating Time in Search of Memorial Markers for the Radio-Toxic Landscape of La Hague: Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (100), 230–266. https://doi.org/10.37522/aaav.100.2021.63