Erich Berger, Kovela-REE, gamma radiation intensity mapping (2020), digital print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag® Ultra Smooth on Dibond, 300 x 160 cm. Kovela-REE, field work documentation. Photos Till Bovermann.
My current artistic work takes shape under the umbrella Spectral Landscapes (Berger, 2020) and is investigating radioactivity and the landscape. I collect data which allow me to portray the gamma radiation fields as bodies which protrude from the radioactive base-rock as intricate but intrinsic features of the landscape. Invisible but present, the constitution of these fields are part of the innate processes of our planet in deep time, conforming to continental drift, the biogenic accumulation of oxygen in our atmosphere, the folding of mountain ranges and their weathering; they follow the carvings of geophysical forms which produce the features of the landscapes we observe around us. I refer to these bodies as spectral because their presence is ghostly and can only be detected via extra-sensorial means, but then they are also spectral because they are fields of light, of photons, although located in a part of the spectrum not visible to human eye. At the same time Finland is building Onkalo, the first permanent deep geological spent nuclear fuel repository. It will be back-filled until 2120 and engineering claims that Onkalo can hold back the nuclear waste for the next one hundred thousand years, traveling into a deep future yet to become. Two stories connected by their materiality and location covering the full scale of planetary time.
Erich Berger is an artist, curator and cultural worker based in Helsinki. His artistic work and research concentrate on hybrid ecologies, deep time as well as biological and ecological processes which led him to work with radiogenic phenomena and their socio-political implications in the here and now. He moves between visual arts and science in an area which he also investigates and develops as director of the Bioart Society in Helsinki.