[Visual Dictionary] When Art Becomes Radioactive...

Visual definitions shed light on 2015's biggest art trends.

by Dela Deso
30 December 2015, 1:55pm

We asked some of our favorite artists to visually define some ideas and genres we felt had a big presence in 2015. Ritchie Velasquez, a.k.a. Dela Deso, symbolises the marriage of radioactive ideas—and often materials—with classic mediums like sculpture and film with. The result is a face-melting acid green Mona Lisa. With disasters like Fukushima still fresh in the collective conscious, many artists grapple with how to feel about nuclear energy and the consequences thereof. Velasquez's illustration thus captures this clash between old mediums and new ideas.

Radioactive materials are an everyday part of life, powering cities all over the world, summoning fear of cancer or hope for super powers (depending on how many comic books you've read) in pop culture. Artists like Trevor Paglen, Chim↑Pom, and Phillip Stearns have harnessed these emotions in works ranging from sculptures made from radioactive material, to a visual remix of a Geiger counter. How we decide to deal with nuclear energy (and waste) will affect future generations for 10,000 years, and these works inform that process.

Here are some more artists who deal with nuclear power and its consequences.

Trinity Cube by Trevor Paglen. Courtesy the artist

Taryn Simon


Ai Weiwei

Trevor Paglen

Phillip Stearns

Ei Arakawa

Postcards From Pripyat, Chernobyl

Ilan Cohen and Boris Levy

Danny Cooke

Hilda Hellström

The Unknown Fields Division

James Acord

Ei Arakawa, Nuclear Lanterns (Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 to 4), 2015. Wood, paper, acrylic paint, light bulbs and electric cords

See more of Dela Deso's work on his website.


The Radioactive Art Exhibit You Can't See | Don't Follow The Wind

Music Goes Nuclear With The Radioactive Orchestra

6 Artists Who Aren't Afraid to Work with Radioactive Materials

Nuclear Waste Is Art in the Work of Taryn Simon

Radioactive Art
dela deso
visual dictionary