Time Lag

May 17 2014

Panning for Atomic Gold, The Arts Catalyst (screening)

Today any database search engine will return the nuclear accident at Chernobyl when the date “April 26 1986” is input into its search parameters, whereas a microfiche review of Soviet (Pravda, Izvestia) and international newspapers from the same period reveals a time-lag of 19 days before the event registered publicly in print that a major nuclear accident had taken place. Although an orbiting American satellite took night-time images of the reactor explosion and meteorologists and scientists recorded extraordinarily high levels of radioactivity within days of the meltdown in Sweden and Germany, this information was not linked to Chernobyl for almost three weeks since Mikhail Gorbachev and the Central Committee largely withheld news of the disaster. By severely underplaying the gravity of the situation, tragically delaying reports that a substantial nuclear explosion had taken place, and downplaying the potential for contamination a tragedy of far greater consequences ensued. For those working at the Chernobyl nuclear plant site or living in the adjacent city of Pripyat this time lag would prove fatal as malignant cells metastasized, seeding their defects throughout the zone and eventually airlifting their malevolence across the borders of the Ukraine into Belarus and Europe.

Description: Single-chanel video, 6:02 mins. Originally produced for  the “Crossing Time Zones” conference in 2007