Cherenkov is an installation created for the exhibition Here to Become at the Bridewell Studios, Liverpool for the 2023 Independents Biennial exploring the prophetic quality of Plutonium-239.

When light passes through water its speed is reduced by around a quarter. A charged particle emitted by a radioactive substance may have a speed greater than that of light in water. The resulting ‘sonic boom’ causes the emission of a characteristic blue light – Cherenkov radiation – named after the Soviet physicist and Nobel Laureate Pavel Cherenkov who first discovered it.

Cherenkov (2023) Light, water and varied apparatus

Cherenkov explores the eschatological nature of this phenomenon imagining the innate potential of Pu-239 to go critical or act as oracle. Cobalt-blue light passes through a brass rod suspended in a glass vial of water – a surrogate rod of Plutonium-239 in the ‘forbidden pool’ of a nuclear reactor. The scattered light hits a lead screen engraved with verse 5 Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation:

και οτε ηνυξε την ϲφραγιδα την τριτην ηκουϲα του τριτου ζωου λεγοντοϲ ερχου και ϊδε και ειδον και ϊδου ιπποϲ μελαϲ και ο καθημενοϲ επ αυτον εχων ζυγον εν τη χιρι αυτου

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying: Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and he that sat on him had a balance in his hand.

Rev 6:5

In this way Cherenkov also becomes inscrutably linked to Trinity its companion artwork in the same exhibition: a 3m balance which literally weighs souls.

The music featured in Cherenkov is Plutonium by Michael John Gerard Higgins whose work is a part of an emerging series structurally related to the electron shell configurations of certain elements in the periodic table.