How do we trouble time? was an augmented reality installation experienced on August 7th, 2021 at the site of Chicago Pile-1, where a nuclear chain reaction under Enrico Fermi led to the atomic bomb and the violent proliferation of a nuclear age. In honor of the hibakusha and inspired by what quantum mechanics tells us about the true nature of time, this AR environment was conceived as a sanctuary of fluid temporalities, a landscape of voids churning with the voices of those who have been or may in the future be catastrophically impacted—without our action—by the violence of American militarism, colonialism, and nuclear devastation that has seeped into society since the moment of Fermi’s 1942 experiment. During the run of the work, the viewer navigated the site through provided iPads, to encounter text, audio, and visual events guided by informative provocations from the past and potential future.
Much of the theoretical underpinning of How do we trouble time? was inspired by Karen Barad’s work of a similar name, Troubling time/s and ecologies of nothingness: re-turning, re-membering, and facing the incalculable. Additional aspects of the work, both conceptual and material, were drawn from other artists, scholars, and survivors of nuclear tragedies.
Development of this AR artwork began as early as June 2021, when Taylor Shuck was engaged as a curator and project fellow for Start a Reaction. Shuck’s early conceptual sketches would be developed over the ensuing weeks with her collaborator and technical lead, Judd Morrissey, into the AR environment that would eventually become How do we trouble time?
After weeks of coding, in late July on-site testing of the user interface began, with Morrissey and Shuck inserting AR components into nearly every facet of the Henry Moore Sculpture Plaza.