Making the City by Hand


Making the City by Hand’ (extracts) – electronic (video & audio) Flash (SWF)

Description of work:

Making the city by hand is a web specific art work exploring the subject of human behaviour and its relation to technological discoveries, progress and evaluation, and the consequences for human experience in the future.

In 1942 the Manhattan Project was launched in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. On December 2 of that year the first artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was produced from a piece of graphite and uranium. The technological and moral territory revealed was entirely new for those involved in the project. The reasons for working on the project were compelling …” .the reason we did the job is because it was organic necessity. If you are a scientist you cannot stop such a thing. If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works, that it is good to find out what the realities are, that it is good to to turn over to mankind at large the greatest possible power to control the world and to deal with it according to its lights and its values” (Enrico Fermi, 1944)

The work explores the idea that such unparalleled power and intensity could be revealed to the world by a simple physical act of bringing together two spheres of differing substances (as was the case in early tests which resulted in severe burns and fatal radiation poisoning for those participating). The act of creating power ‘by hand’ is the counterpoint
to ‘the city’ as a metaphor for human experience …. morality, survival, emotion, comprehension, frailty. The city can become a mirror on our existence, the span of human behaviour is lived out on a personal and social level in the city. The complexities of experience, of life, are played out before us. This experience is a reality which has great power and when that power is brought to collision we are often perplexed and bewildered by the consequences for us as individuals, such is the act of making the city by hand.