I (will) destroy(ed) you...to protect you / 2022 - ongoing

The project explores entanglement between the birth of ecosystem ecology and atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons

The project explores entanglement between the birth of ecosystem ecology and atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons conducted in the U.S between 1945 and 1992. The knowledge that ecologists of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) obtained from studying the irradiated landscapes became the foundation to modern ecology.

What are potential future trajectories of human relationships to non-human and environment at large if modern knowledge-systems that are in place to describe them are based on eliminating the said communities?

The ceramic and plastic sculptures as well as their respective 3D scans depart from various mineral phenomena that are results of atmospheric nuclear tests in New Mexico and Marshall Islands. Artifacts, fossils, meshes, bones, commodities, vessels, data, pixels…

What can these topographies tell us about human and nonhuman constellations?

deep time geological wonder   


On early Monday hours 5:29 am Mountain War Time, July 16, 1945, the first ever human made nuclear bomb was detonated at the territory that is known today as White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, USA.

A crater that can be compared only with the impact of meteorite crashing in the crust of the earth was left behind. 

The crumbles of green and red glass that covered the desert floor forming a neat circle around ground zero, were later named trinitite. Time capsules of sort solidifying the end of one time and the beginning of another one.

Mineral records that will testify human presence on earth after we are long gone.

Since then Trinitite has been submitted to XRF, autoradiography and backscattered electron imaging. It has been collected, sold, and bought. It has been used for construction of ant hills. 

It has become part of desert and human ecosystems.


Tularosa basin is composed of alluvial, aeolian, and volcanic materials related to past marine and mountain-building events.

Quartz, feldspars, carbonates, sulfates, chlorides, hornblende, olivine, clays, magnetite, ilmenite, augite, meteoritic and volcanic dust have been identified in the mineral composition of Trinitite along with uranium, plutonium, thorium, iron and lead.

A scientific paper claims, it remains a speculation whether Trinitite was produced by the uptake of sand into the heart of the blast fire that then fell back down on the desert floor.

Children who visited the blast site collected Trinitite because of its green glow in the dark.

Until very recently, largely indigenous communities lived in the shadow of atomic fictions and nuclear souvenirs. Trinity downwinders had been excluded from the Radiation Compensation Act for decades. It was claimed that there was not enough scientific data to prove the adverse impacts of the Trinity blast on the surrounding environment and its communities. Neither was data collected or territories surveyed regarding the real fallout effects.

Just a mineral fiction that will testify human presence on earth after we are long gone.


Excerpts from the “Surface Mining at the First Ground Zero” by Dr. Ralph E Pray.

While living in the remote desert of Northern New Mexico I had seen an aerial photograph of the radioactive site in a popular magazine. It looked like a giant scab. It was impurity waiting to be taken away. I was determined to remove it without a trace of publicity. My self appointed task was to gain entry to the government glass and haul it off for burial, to repair the desert, and clean away this radioactive afterbirth.

- I’m not going in there. You’re out of your mind.

- Could be, but there’s something to do here.

- Listen, they won’t ask any questions. They’ll just shoot us.

- There’s nobody around here, not for thirty’ miles.

- There could be long-range guns aimed at us right now. These people were smart enough to do this. They can do anything. We’re nothing.

- I’m driving in. I’m going for a truckload of glass.

I turned off the highway at 2am and taped on the headlight masks. We crept along carefully. About two miles south of the highway I got my first big surprise in the Trinitite Project. A herd of small antelope dashed across the road in front of me. Then a large mound in the road ahead turned out to be a tortoise I had to drive around. A minute later there came a coyote who skittered almost sideways when he got close to the truck. Along the pole and wire line I saw a shiny log that turned out to be a porcupine. Jackrabbits sat on the black tar sucking up yesterday’s heat.

My tire tracks from the previous week were the only ones in the sand at the gate. I entered and got to work. The second load was 600 pounds. I was back on the highway at four a.m. and in Albuquerque by seven. I unloaded in Santa Fe a few hours later.

Two more trips were needed to remove the bulk of the glass. I did these alone in the darkness. I preferred it. The stress was minimal. I liked the cool night air. Seeing the wild animals in this place recently dedicated to total destruction gave me some hope for the future. It was almost as if they knew something.

bones will be bones   


The following are quotes from the staff of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), including the father of modern ecology Eugene Odum, presented and written by large during a period of the most devastating atmospheric nuclear tests in Bikini and Enewetak Atolls, Marshall Islands.

"The days of undisturbed natural background (radiation) are gone perhaps forever, as a result of the continuing detonations of atomic bombs."

Frederick Cowan, the head of Brookhaven Laboratory's Health Physics Division in article “Everyday Radiation” (1952)

“Science advances on a broad front . . . It is analogous to the advance of an army; a breakthrough may occur anywhere, and when one does it will not penetrate far until the whole front moves up. Thus, ecologists need not feel bashful about attacking ecosystems so long as they observe the rules of good science."

Eugene Odum in article, "Ecology and the Atomic Age” (1957)

“While Bikini is best known as a weapons testing site, it has also contributed significantly to man’s knowledge of the long term effects of radiation on an environment. During the years when radiation levels were too high for people to live there permanently, the AEC sponsored several scientific studies on the atoll. In fact, Bikini truly served as a living ecological laboratory.”

Glenn Seaborg, the Chairman of the AEC (1968)


Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon. Radiocarbon dating has been widely used to detect the age of ancient samples. Recent studies have found that radiocarbon dating can provide precise ages in modern samples too due to the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1950 and 1963. Carbon-14 accumulates in human tooth enamel during its formation years, which can be used to identify the age of a body.

In December 1958 the Greater St. Louis Citizens’ Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI) tested 325,000 baby teeth for strontium-90, a radioactive byproduct of atomic testing. Strontium-90, like calcium, readily incorporates into bones and teeth where it can cause cancers. In response to atmospheric nuclear tests in Nevada, CNI conducted a large-scale citizen science project that called for kids to send their baby teeth to scientists, in order to prove the increasing levels of strontium-90 in the human body. 

The published results that revealed that levels of strontium-90 were 50 times higher in the baby teeth of children born in 1963 than those born in 1950, ultimately led to the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except for those conducted underground.


We are all made of stones. Connected by intricate mineral webs moving through ecosystems and bodies that constitute them. Eugene Odum was particularly interested in biochemical relationships within an ecosystem.

One of the disciplines that emerged in the second part of the 20th century and allowed to trace different life cycles in the ecosystem, was radioecology. It meant introducing new radioactive isotopes in a living organism(s), in order to measure effects of stress on organisms, radiocarbon dating, study of food chains, tracking animal movements and quantifying the rate of material and energy flow through ecosystems.

At the time nuclear weapon test sites were considered secluded isolates.

But radiation moves across national borders and territorial waters. It deposits on the ocean floor and is carried further by the water streams. It remains in the atmosphere and blows with the winds. It accumulates in the soil and the vegetation that grows in that soil, it sediments in the bodies that consume the plants.

Same as our nonhuman counterparts, we will become mineral records that will testify human presence on earth after we are long gone.

fossilized vessels   


At the end of the century, a radiotrophic fungi was discovered growing in highly irradiated landscapes. Cladosporium sphaerospermum, Wangiella dermatitidis and Cryptococcus were striving in environments whose radiation levels were 500 times higher than the norm. 

The melanin containing fungi are able to shield off  ionizing radiation and survive in more extreme environments.

It might be possible that melanin helps to metabolize radiation into energy.


From ant hills in the New Mexico desert to coral reefs in Bikini and Enewetak atolls to the irradiated surroundings of the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, the ecosystem seemed to be capable of recovery without human intervention. 

Ecosystem ecology studies in these areas ultimately provided knowledge about the management and control of nature that would allow for further extraction of its resources.

Systems of bacteria, fungi, plants, insects and animals that would need to be protected to ensure human life on Earth and beyond.

In his book “Environment, Power and Society” (1971), the brother of Eugene Odum, ecologist Howard Odum writes: “In a thousand ways, the accelerating changes accompanying an increasing budget of energy for man raise questions of his ultimate role and survival. As man's system becomes large enough to control and prevail in the flows of the biosphere, will he understand it well enough to prevent disaster? If his energy sources begin to decline, can he return to a minor energetic position in the earth system without a collapse and extinction of culture as we now know it?”


It is a distant future.

A fossil is found. Some speculate, a piece of body technology.

Its digitized model illustrates significant amounts of radioactive matter. Unclear of its terrestrial or extraterrestrial origins, the piece of rock might date back to the time when colonies of Cladosporium sphaerospermum were deployed to build protective suites in order to protect astronauts from the radiation in Space.

Life support, self-preservation, attack?

A mineral fiction testifying human presence on Earth after we will be long gone.