The work of Brock Professor Donna Szoke on the hidden history of nuclear waste is being featured in a Toronto group exhibition that opened last week.
Szoke, a researcher and Visual Arts Chair, has her work on display as part of Digital Animalities — a two-venue exhibition of artworks that examines how human-animal understandings and relationships are changing through the use of ubiquitous media and new technologies.
The exhibition is part of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
(SSHRC)-funded research project titled “Digital Animalities: Media Representations of Nonhuman Life in the Age of Risk,” led by Jody Berland of York University.
It brings the work of artists and researchers together to highlight the challenges and opportunities for new understandings of animals in contemporary digital culture.
Co-curated by Giovanni Aloi, Matthew Brower and Curatorial Assistant Seb Roberts, Digital Animalities divided the works into two exhibitions: Mapping (at the James B. Aird gallery) and Rendering (at CONTACT Gallery).
Szoke’s Invisible Histories (a geolocative smartphone/tablet app she developed in 2015) is featured in the Mapping exhibition.
The free app maps nuclear waste at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., storage site, where more than 270,000 mice used in radioactive experiments have been buried.
The app brings public awareness to the fact that there is radioactive evidence of secret atomic testing that took place during the infamous Manhattan Project in Niagara.
Users are guided through the app to the rodent burial site through the leadership of green, glowing 3D mice that become more prevalent on-screen as the site grows near.
Szoke said it’s ironic, because no one actually wants to go towards nuclear waste, but the mice guide users to their graves to reveal their tragic end.
Szoke was awarded the 2017 Faculty of Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. Her artistic work includes media art, interactive animation, installation, drawing, experimentation and printmaking.
Digital Animalities runs at the John B. Aird Gallery and CONTACT Gallery in Toronto until Nov. 23.
The Invisible Histories app is available for free download at the iTunes store (OsX) and Google Play (Android).