Trinity is a large kinetic sculpture made of steel and feathers illustrating the existential potential of Pu-239 and its eschatological relation to the Trinity atomic weapon test.

This large kinetic work originated from the chance find of a round bolt of metal. The artwork connects the steel’s sheer heft and materiality to the extreme potential of an equivalent mass of Plutonium 239. This artwork is a meditation on these metaphysical implications.

Trinity

At the end of a 3m steel balance the 10.2kg steel mass is an allegorical representation of the radioactive isotope Plutonium-239 whose innate qualities at a similar size and weight would by sheer coincidence – be critical – and which would naturally lead to a catastrophic nuclear event.

In a modern nuclear weapon the complete detonation of a similar mass of Pu-239 would result in a 200kT explosion. To put this in perspective, it would result in an explosion thirteen times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. It is no coincidence that Plutonium was named after Pluto, the god of the Underworld.

Trinity. Steel and feathers (2023)

At the other end of the balance is an equivalent mass of feathers in three hessian sacks. I have always enjoyed the old puzzle ‘which is the heavier, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers’… But in this artwork there is a deeper and more ominous metaphor because the counterbalance of 80 000 feathers coincidentally related to the probable number of souls lost at Hiroshima. I cannot account for this accidental relation.

Coinciding with its first showing at the Bridewell Gallery 16th July 2023 saw the 78th anniversary of the Trinity test, the world’s first atomic explosion. Satellite images still show a two mile-wide greenish hue in the desert of New Mexico, an inland sea of glass caused by the ferocity of the primitive atomic fireball devised by scientists of the Manhattan Project. That Oppenheimer used the religious poetry of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets to reference the test is another rather unnerving and devilish coincidence.