Studio, Berlin, 2014
Umkehr consists of two hour glass timers filled with crushed glass collected at the sites of the first two nuclear weapon detonations in history. In 1946 the US Army detonated a nuclear bomb at a test site in the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man) desert in New Mexico, USA.Russia responded with a second nuclear bomb test in 1949 in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, a territory of the former USSR.
At both sites, the nuclear explosion triggered a compositional change in the sand, effectively transforming it into glass particles called Trinitit eg Kharitonchik. Ground into a fine dust, the glass from Trinity and Semipalatinsk falls back and forth in the turning hourglasses that rotate in a barely audible conversation with one another. Tiny microphones amplify the sounds of the falling material to eight speakers mounted on the walls of the surrounding space. Sound sweeps from left to right and from right to left from time to time.
Imagine after an explosion of a nuclear bomb that the floor beneath you is glass and its hailing molten sand, how would that sound?—It’s the beginning of the nuclear age.