Conference on Communication and Environment 2017

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Radiation: The Borderless Anthropocene

Work of Art - In person in Leicester

The proposed project for the upcoming 2017 International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) conference will showcase collaborative work of radiation-induced mutations in insects and animals. Timothy Mouseau (Scientist), Yvonne Love (Artist) and Darlene Farris-LaBar (Artist) are researching the ecological impacts of mutations associated with radiation in insects and birds (fire bugs and barn swallows). Drawings, video, infographics and 3D-printed facsimiles of healthy and mutated bugs and birds will be represented as an art installation. We will broach the broader subject of the hazards to various ecosystems from the byproducts of nuclear energy.

The primary goal of this interdisciplinary collaboration is to share our unique perspectives, based on our areas of expertise, with each other in order to enhance the observation, collection and interpretation of scientific data. The merging of these ideas will enhance future works for both disciplines. The focus will be exploring how visual communication can aid in studying the impact of radiation on flora and fauna, as well as biotic interactions in general. The installation will showcase how artists see, respond, and connect information in a way that communicate on levels that can stimulate memory, emotion, experience, feeling and more in the audiences.

This project will provide a means by which to address important questions related to the risks and benefits of nuclear power in the United States and beyond. The United States has never experienced a radioactive release on the order of that seen at Chernobyl or Fukushima (although the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 came very close). However, additional nuclear accidents are inevitable with the growing number of nuclear power plants and the fact that in many countries (e.g. the USA), the nuclear “fleet” is aging and approaching the end of their designed life-span. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and progressively violent storms impose a tremendous risk to nuclear facilities. In addition, the United States is a likely target for terrorist attacks. This project will help to determine the deleterious effects that radiation has on living species beyond simple genetic damage and will provide much needed knowledge for evidence-based policy concerning the costs and benefits of nuclear energy in general.

The 10-12’ installation will merge collective images, and responses to the political, social, and environmental issues surrounding nuclear energy, from 2 artists and a scientist, in blockaded areas without boundaries. The installation will include photographs, data, video, 3-d printed and drawn images of swallows and firebugs that have been affected by radiation. There will be integration of data collection of the “borderless” swallow migration which shows radiation passed from Chernobyl to Africa.The artists will supply any necessary installation supplies such as, hanging devices, projectors, pedestals and etc.

In conclusion, art in it’s very nature is a visual form of communication. Art further lends itself to exposing and connecting information that has social, political and environmental ramifications, in ways that words do not. It is our hope that this installation illuminates the pressing issue of of the hazards to ecosystems from the byproducts of nuclear energy.



Darlene Farris-LaBar
Professor of Art + Design
Art + Design Department
East Stroudsburg University
United States

Yvonne Love
Assistant Professor of Art
Art Department
Penn State Abington College
United States

Timothy Mousseau
Professor of Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Department
University of South Carolina
United States