2017年12月15日 星期五

Nuclear Decay Timer

Nuclear Decay Timer
Four - channel video installation, 8' 40", 2017

For this work, Chia-Wei Hsu ollaborated with geologists to look at colonial history from a science history perspective. After the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, Japan’s economy suffered a steep economic decline. In the hope of reviving the economy, Japanese established several benefits for the gold mining, thus resulting in a rapid development of colonial Taiwan’s gold mining industry. Meanwhile, zircon was discovered for the first time during this gold mining craze, yet it was not taken seriously at the time. It was not until the geologists discovered zircon in the riverbed of Mawudu River (Hsinchu) that it was put into research. Initially, researches aimed to survey these mineral resources in order to produce alloy and to support military’s development during the World War II, however later they realized that the output of zircon was insufficient. Although the plan ended in failure, the zircon samples from the excavation have new scientific applications for the later generations of geologists. With technological advances, such as the electron probe micro-analyzers, geologists can now determine the composition of zircon. In addition, with the help of nuclear physics, they are able to reveal intriguing information about the past. Zircon is like a nuclear decay timer that allows geologists to look at the span of time from the beginning of the world to the birth of humans.


核衰變計時器

四頻道錄像裝置,8’40”,2017

在這個計畫中,藝術家與地質學家合作,試圖從科學史的角度重新回看殖民歷史。1923 年的日本關東大地震之後,由於日本經濟嚴重衰退,為了挽救經濟而訂定了許多金礦業的優惠條件,殖民地台灣的金礦業就此蓬勃發展。當時在採金礦的過程中,初次發現了副礦物「鋯石」,不過當時並未受到重視。直至二戰期間,日治時期的地質學家在新竹關西地區的馬武督溪河床,發現了一種特殊的鋯石巨晶,可作為合金用途,並用以支持二戰期間軍需產業的發展,於是投入研究。起初是作為礦產資源的調查,但最終其產量並不足以作為礦產資源。雖然這個計畫以失敗告終,但當時所留下來的鋯石標本,卻在不同世代的地質學家手中有了新的科學發展,透過電子微探儀定出成分,並結合核物理學的方法,讀出其中的時間資訊。鋯石成為了核衰變計時器,為地質學家展開的是從盤古開天闢地到人類誕生的時空跨度。








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