2nd Place; Project 596 (Chinese Nuclear Landscape) by Florian Ruiz
Lop Nor is a former salt lake, now largely dried-up, located in Xinjiang province in northwest China. This barren area was used intermittently as a nuclear weapons testing site from 1964 to 1996, with as many as 45 tests carried out underground and in the atmosphere. The first Chinese nuclear bomb test, codenamed Project 596, was conducted here in October 1964. As a result of these activities, the region is still heavily contaminated. With Project 596 (Chinese Nuclear Landscape) I wanted to show the invisible danger in this desolate area. Using a Geiger counter I measured the presence of radiation in becquerels (Bq). The title of each image is the level of soil contamination I recorded, expressed in Bq. Using digital techniques, I superimposed image fragments, suggesting atoms altering and a general feeling of impermanence. These broken perspectives show the landscape twisting and changing, leading to a sort of vertigo or malaise. The work hints at the danger hidden behind the landscapes.