The Zone

By Pablo DeSoto + Román Torre

The Zone is an interactive installation about the ghostly landscapes of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. Following the meltdowns of several nuclear reactors in March 2011, almost two hundred thousand people were forced to abandon their livelihoods in a matter of hours. Human settlements turned into ghost towns, now inhabited by the uncanny presence of ionizing radiation. Invisible gamma waves, alpha & beta particles occupied the physical space of the former inhabitant’s memoirs, a warning about dreams of technological progress turned into nightmares.

The Zone consists of three main parts: an interactive map, a workers’ area and a documentation area.

The main piece is a 80 square metres interactive map. The map is projected on the floor allowing the visitors to walk on the top of it. Five digitally fabricated objects on its surface, when approached by the visitor, activate a specific story. These stories include 1/ the earthquake and tsunami, 2/ the multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns, 3/ the evacuation of the population, 4/ the first journalists to get into the Exclusion Zone, and 5/ the citizen science as a response to the invisible radiological disaster.

The workers’ area is a tribute to the thousands of workers, mostly subcontract ones, who enter Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant everyday or work in the decontamination brigades. It includes a Geiger Counter developed by Safecast, a citizen science community established in Japan as a response to the nuclear disaster.

The Zone includes a documentation area with books, reports, photos and academic papers on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It additionally includes resources from primary sources collected in Japan between November 2011 and February 2012. Selected Academic Papers are organised into six main categories: Social Movements, Citizen Science, Philosophy, Ecosystems, Activism, Workers and Public Health.

The Zone is the winning project in the 6th DKV – Álvarez Margaride Production Scholarship, organised by LABoral Centro de Arte in conjunction with the DKV insurance company, and it was produced during a residency at Plataforma 0, LABoral’s production centre. It was exhibited at LABoral Art Center from June 20 to October 21, 2018.

Photo by Roman Torre.
Photo by Marcos Morilla, courtesy of LABoral.
Photo by Román Torre.
Photo by Marcos Morilla, courtesy of LABoral.
Photo by Marcos Morilla, courtesy of LABoral.
Documentation area
Photo by Román Torre.
Interview to the artists (Spanish)

Pablo DeSoto is a scholar, radical cartographer and artist with a singular and iconoclastic experience across geographic and disciplinary borders. He holds a Master Degree in Architecture from the Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm and a PhD in Communication & Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He is LAB_Joven Experimenta & LAB_Cyberspaces awards by LABoral. Pablo is the editor of three books and he has exhibited, taught and lectured worldwide.

Román Torre’s work is not anchored to any particular format. He is especially interested in visual and speculative narratives inspired by science and science fiction. He likes to recreate that kind of situations consciously or unconsciously through installations, devices and other series of artistic formats that allow him to combine technical and visual research, interest in contemporary issues surrounding the human being in its technological and social environment.