Talking to the Future – Understanding Radioactivity through Everyday Product Interactions

Henrike Dorothée Feckenstedt

Nuclear waste remains radioactive for thousands of years. Burying it underground 
in an enormous repository, Onkalo, surrounded and secured by solid rock is the long-term solution Finnish authorities implement right now. Once the repository is filled up, it is locked up forever and not to be opened again. At the same time three new nuclear power plants are built. “Out of Sight, out of Mind?” Ultimately, this raises questions: Can this be the solution for final disposal of nuclear waste? How do we understand a problem clearly exceeding our capabilities as human beings? How do we deal with the dilemmas of uncertainty, invisibility, time, demand, possible consequences, and our individual responsibility as human beings?

Understanding through Interaction I designed three everyday products, a lamp, a piggy bank for children, and a pregnancy test, that afford a familiar everyday action on one hand, while exposing a dilemma related to Onkalo on the other. In doing so the artifacts make those dilemma tangible and facilitate understanding and critical thinking.

Personal Discourse Around an Experience Sharing a personal experience, the users can co-engage in a personal discourse around nuclear waste actively, opposing the distant and highly politicalised discourse spread by the media. Join me in the process of interacting, understanding and exchanging thoughts and help making the invisible visible, and/or contribute with your projects and perspectives around human responsibility on earth.

The event will consist of two parts, the first where everyone can try products, and a second one where experiences can be discussed and shared.