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Giant Uranium Ant Reflects Concerns About Nuclear Power

Australia-based artists Ken and Julia Yonetani draw attention to Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear power plant accident from 2011 with their sculptural installation titled What the Birds Knew. The 6-meter long sculpture is actually made of uranium glass beads illuminated by UV lights, giving it that bright neon green glow. The collaborative duo use the radioactive element “as a means of exploring the fear of radiation that Japan has been living with daily,” though it should be noted that the trace amounts are legal and not harmful to people.

The giant, viridescent insect that's depicted in the work represents the ramifications of natural disruption in the form of nuclear energy. The figure is inspired by the Green Ant Dreaming stories of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land, from a site near the Nabarlek Uranium Mine. The story says that giant ants will emerge from the ground and wreak havoc if their land is devastated. It ties in directly with last year's nuclear disaster in Japan. Additionally, the piece's title draws its name from the idea that “birds would flee if they knew of the impending environmental threats,” which was also the alternative title for Akira Kurosawa's I Live in Fear.

What the Birds Knew is currently on display at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art through September 22, 2012.

Ken + Julia Yonetani website
via [For When I Feel Like Sharing, Daily Serving]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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