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$1,343
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Jesse Andrewartha
$1,343
pledged of $5,058 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

INTRODUCTION

My campaign raises funds for an expedition to film and photograph historically significant uranium mines around Moab, Utah, and Uranium City, Saskatchewan, for my exhibition, "TRANSMUTATIONS: Visualizing Matter | Materializing Vision" – a unique, immersive, mixed media project combining an expanded 16mm documentary and series of uranotypes that explore ecological and cultural legacies of uranium mining, relationships between ‘apocalyptic’ material practices and the capacity of symbolism to communicate their force.

In order to conclude our campaign by the Holiday, I’ve kept it short, ending on Friday December 22 at 9:00pm PST. So I need all the help I can get to make this project a reality!

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Nuclear issues have risen to the forefront of political discourse: from rising tensions with North Korea, the continued contamination from Fukushima to proposed resumption of uranium mining in national monuments. The urgency of this project, to provide space for commentary on human-material practices, impacts on communities and to images adequate to convey the force of radioactive materials, is why I believe it is important to undertake this project now.

PROJECT MOTIVATION

"TRANSMUTATIONS" is an expanded documentary combining analog 16mm black and white film & digital sound recordings, together with ultra-large format uranotype photography and live data from scientific measuring instruments to illuminate the mineral at the heart of the atomic age, the radioactive, primary ore of uranium: uraninite. Using these mediums, "TRANSMUTATIONS" will stage the visualization and sonification of radioactivity and the complex relationships between humans and our material conditions. The project includes collaboration with Indigenous and non-Indigenous commentators and guides, creating space for a range of perspectives on human-material practices and their impacts on physical and cultural ecologies.

 

Uraninite specimen, "C" Group, Inter-River District, San Juan County, Utah
Uraninite specimen, "C" Group, Inter-River District, San Juan County, Utah

ABOUT THE PROJECT & EXPEDITION:

My project has two components:

  • (i) A hybrid black and white 16mm expanded documentary film
  • (ii) An ultra-large format photographic series of hand coated alternative process photochemical prints.

As part of the first component, I will be travelling to Moab, Utah, on the traditional territory of the Pueblo, Ute and Navajo peoples and to Uranium City, Saskatchewan, in the traditional territories of the Black Lake and Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nations (Treaty 8) to film and photograph the Mi Vida, Gunnar, Eldorado and other important mines in the mid twentieth century.  Here's an overview of the expedition and where I'll be filming:

On 8"x20" ultra-large format film, 16mm film and audio I will document guided exploration of mine interiors (where possible) and surrounding areas, ambient sounds, the sound of geiger counters registering their environment and the commentary of specialist guides. These recordings will be accompanied by audio recordings of local residents, sharing knowledge and experience of the impact of uranium mining practices on their land, communities and lives.

The second component will go beyond typical photographic printmaking. Using historically significant samples of uranium ore extracted from these specific mines, I will print a series of autoradiograms using uranotype: hand coated images made with photosensitive uranium salts, so that the metal itself forms a permanent, radioactive image. These images will accompany and form a visual reference for the soundscape, helping the audience form an image of material vibrancy that speaks not only to the continuing impact of uranium mining on local communities, but the dangers of a cultural imaginary without images adequate to the task of conveying the force of matter in all human-material practices.

Uranotype of uraninite autoradiogram, 15"x15", 250 cpm © Jesse Andrewartha 2017
Uranotype of uraninite autoradiogram, 15"x15", 250 cpm © Jesse Andrewartha 2017

THE EXHIBITION:

The hybrid, multimedia presentation is intended as an immersive experience suited to an exhibition space. The exhibition will be held at Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society in February 2019, with partnership opportunities currently being explored with peer centers in other Canadian Provinces and internationally for additional exhibitions in 2019.

A selection of autoradiograms from the series. © Jesse Andrewartha 2017
A selection of autoradiograms from the series. © Jesse Andrewartha 2017

 

 THE CAMPAIGN:

Fortunately, half of the project is complete!  I have all the cameras and film for the expedition, all photographic testing has been finalized and over twenty autoradiogram negatives for the project have been created. All printing materials have been acquired and work is well underway. Furthermore, uranotype workflow has been established and final prints are in progress.  The expedition to Utah & Saskatchewan will be conducted in May/June 2018, when sites in become accessible as snow and ice thaw and winter gives way to spring... and that’s where you come in!

Exploration of these sites is restricted, often dangerous and requires local specialists for access and guidance. Your pledge on Kickstarter will primarily help fund the necessary speleological & site guide fees, ranging between $500 and $1000 per day, during the exploration of the uranium mines of Utah and Saskatchewan. These are by no means the total costs, so I've added stretch goals that will cover travel expenses including air tickets, car rentals & fuel.

Here’s the cost breakdown of our primary funding goal:

  • $5000 CAD: Seven days of speleological & site guide fees split between Moab and Uranium City.
  • $800 CAD: Four days of equipment rental, including self-contained breathing units and tyvek hazmat suits required inside abandoned uranium mines for myself, equipment and guides.
  • $700 CAD: reward fulfillment

I am using all analog processes: uranotype, ultra-large format photography and 16mm with optical sound-on-film. These choices of photographic processes are far from new, but the way I am applying them to create new imagery is unique. To my knowledge, creating prints of autoradiograms in uranotype from specifically cut and polished specimens of uranium ore is an innovation of imaging unique to my research. Furthermore, 16mm film has not been used to document these historically significant mine interiors since they were abandoned and creating ultra-large format, 8"x20" negatives comprises an unprecedented documentary form in this context. I've been captivated by nuclear culture and the history of uranium mining in North America for decades; with this project, I can combine my skills with analog processes and deep knowledge of the history of these sites to help bring light to the consequences of these activities and humankind's relationship to materials.

 I'm halfway there with all materials in place, now with your support, I can bring this project to life!

STRETCH GOALS!

$9,500 - TRAVEL COSTS

If I get to $9500, this will help cover travel to Moab and Uranium City. I'll be traveling to Moab via car rental, as international flights with such large volumes of film risks X-Ray damage and accidental fogging. Uranium City is accessible only by air from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with intermittent flights via specialist carrier. The breakdown of travel costs is as follows:

  • $1500 CAD: Ten days off-road vehicle rental Vancouver to Moab and in Uranium City, plus fuel. 
  • $1500 CAD: Return air travel Vancouver - Saskatoon - Uranium City

$12,500 - PORT RADIUM EXPEDITION

Port Radium in the 1940's (public domain image)
Port Radium in the 1940's (public domain image)

Our final stretch goal is to lead an expedition to photograph the remediated Eldorado Mine at Port Radium on the eastern shore of Great Bear Lake, in the traditional territory of the Sahtu Dene First Nations, Northwest Territories, Canada. Located near the Arctic Circle, the mine was the first major source of radium in North America in the 1930's and contributed ore to the first atomic bomb in World War II. In fact, uranium from Eldorado formed the core of "Little Boy", the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. For over thirty years, Port Radium produced uranium ore for the US nuclear program, creating contamination that dramatically impacted the environment and local population. Finally remediated in 2008, the site and the Sahtu Dene people are still recovering from the effects of decades of uranium extraction. The stretch goal would enable me to charter a plane and boat to reach to isolated site for several days to survey, document the site on 16mm black-and-white and ultra-large format film and interview the local communities for inclusion in the exhibition.

ABOUT ME

I have been obsessed with nuclear culture and radioactivity ever since reading about Marie Curie's discovery of radium in my early teens. After earning a postgraduate degree in Scientific Photography from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, I moved to North America and am a twenty year veteran of the visual effects industry. My work encompasses all aspects of analog imaging, from daguerreotypes to award winning 16mm & 35mm films. I am also active in the Vancouver film community, teaching workshops on topics ranging from optical sound to fine printing and custom processing.

Risks and challenges

With any creative endeavour, there are risks and challenges. With all the autoradiogram negatives complete, printing well underway for the photographic portion of the exhibition and with equipment secured, there are few artistic risks remaining, nominally those of ensuring successful fulfillment of reward materials.

The historical sites in Saskatchewan and NWT are near the Arctic circle, isolated and as with any expedition, there are factors out of your control; you may have issues with inclement weather, accessibility to the mines and equipment malfunction. However, my experience with the equipment used, the in-depth experience of the speleological guides and project partners on site mean that risks on the expedition are minimized.

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    Pledge CA$ 5 or more About $4

    LEAD-210

    A huge THANK YOU for supporting this project! Plus a screen saver of an autoradiogram from the project. With your help, I'm one step closer to completing my project!

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    POLONIUM-214

    Stay appraised of news relating to "TRANSMUTATIONS" and expeditions. Receive emails and updates during production and exhibition, including digital photos & stories from the sites.

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    Stay appraised of news relating to "TRANSMUTATIONS" and expeditions. Receive emails and updates during production and exhibition, including digital photos & stories from the sites, plus three digital images of autoradiograms.

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    You'll receive emails and updates during production, including digital photos & stories from the sites, plus your name will be listed as a supporter at the exhibition.

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    You'll receive emails and updates during production, your name listed at the exhibition, plus you'll receive a digital download of the 16mm expanded documentary taken at the mines in Utah & Canada,

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    LEAD-214 rewards, plus a postcard pack of ten cards of uraninite autoradiograms.

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    POLONIUM-218 rewards plus a mounted and framed 35mm film cell from documentary footage.

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    POLONIUM-218 reward plus an 24" x 36" exhibition poster featuring an autoradiogram from the exhibition

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    RADIUM-226

    RADON-222 reward plus an 8"x10" silver gelatine fiber base print of your choice of uraninite autoradiogram from the series, overmatted to 11"x14"

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    URANIUM-234

    RADON-222 reward plus an hand printed, limited edition silver gelatin contact print from an ultra-large format 8"x20" negative of your choice from the expedition, overmatted to 20"x24".

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    PROTACTINIUM-234

    RADON-222 reward plus a mounted, signed, 16"x20" limited edition silver gelatin fiber base print of your choice of autoradiogram from the series, overmatted to 20"x24".

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    THORIUM-234

    RADON-222 reward plus a mounted, signed, limited edition 15"x15" or 8"x20" platinum print of your choice of image from the series, overmatted to 20"x24".

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    URANIUM-238

    RADON-222 reward plus a signed, UNIQUE 15"x15" or 8"x20" genuine uranotype print of your choice from the series, overmatted to 20"x24". This is a one of a kind reward: my supply of uranotype emulsion is finite and at this stage, irreplaceable. I will only have the material to print the exhibition and this one, additional image!

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