Michael Dossev

1998, 01:50 minutes, colour, English


Rays is a video which consists of animated text and visual footage components. The text is based on excerpts of radioactive elements, co-discovered by him and his wife Marie Curie. These are some of the first elements (including uranium), found to possess radioactive properties. In the video, excerpts of keywords from Curie's presentation, appear in the lower right corner on a black screen. The text is white and moves into the visual frame (the screen) laterally, from below and above. The contrast of white text on a black background creates an apparent sensation of charged visual polarity. A few works move in from above and carry stronger emphasis, since they traverse the entire negative space.
The appearance of every word is synchronized with the base of the soundtrack. There are four portions of text in entire video, which are intermitted by documentary footage of nuclear tests. The dark screen is illuminated by the blasts and each takes place in 1/1 a second. For this purpose footage of blasts that would take place in a few minutes - real time - has been compressed by increasing the playback speed. The visual sequence is synchronized with a string "solo" in the soundtrack.
The effect of the video is a striking juxtaposition of one of the very first treatises on radioactivity (1905) and subsequent nuclear tests (most of them conducted less than 50 years later).

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Critical Writing

Tranz<->Tech 1999 Catalogue
Toronto: Vtape, 1999.