Radioactive Matter

January 6, 2009

Or, Emotional Buzz Words

“By drawing a diagram, a ground plan of a house, a street plan to the location of a site, or a topographic map, one draws a ‘logical two dimensional picture.’ … The Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) is a three dimensional logical picture that is abstract, yet it represents an actual site…” – Robert Smithson, “A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites”

Science has extended beyond conventional mythologies of old, now mapping the brain with Positrin Emission Tomography, or PET scans.  They are “three-dimensional” maps of neuro-chemical processes in the brain.  In these short films, the brain becomes a radioactive “material” ebbing and flowing, like a nuclear waste dump.  The activity in the brain is isolated into sections called, “The Frontal Lobe”, “The Temporal Lobe”, and subsections called, “visual” and “auditory”.  But, the visuals and sounds are nowhere in these maps.  It is really a two-dimensional short film of the temporally dependent organic matter that maps reflections.  It is a continuous map of mapped reflections, where neither the map, nor the reflection are metaphored in three dimensions.  It is nuclear waste pulsing and wobbling in eight-bit resolution.  The neon art of Bruce Nauman comes to mind.  The buzzing electric words, like “human”, “hope”, and “desire”, are materialised in three-dimensions.  “Hope” radiates in an electric red at both a visual and auditory scale that is detected by the eye and ear.  “Hope” is no longer a concept in the mind, but a surge of electric noise and light rattling the senses.  Hope here, is felt by the body, rather than conceptualized by the mind.  One might wonder what three-dimensional qualities, “The Cerebral Cortex”, or “The Frontal Lobe” might have if sent buzzing through a neon tube. 


Maybe creating a three-dimensional metaphorical brain is impossible, where one doesn’t reduce the brain into a library of concepts, but makes it a sensational experience.  How does one feel the three dimensional metaphorical brain?  Perhaps Bruce Nauman has already achieved this through emotional buzz words.