Polygon I, 2014

​Julian Charrière’s photographic series Polygon reveals the U.S.S.R.’s nuclear test site, Semipalatinsk, as a post-apocalyptic and violently melancholic site: a shrine for a ruined future. Using black-and-white analogue, medium-format film to capture the remaining vestiges of the test site, he successfully records the architectural legacy of the birth of the atomic age. The monolithic buildings tower over the rolling hills with the same menacing impact of watchtowers, fully guarded. Before each photograph was developed, thermonuclear strata was scattered on the negative, creating light spots showing the unseen forces which continually act on the landscape pictured. This effect which radioactivity renders on film was first discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel when storing photographic negatives and uranium salts in the same dark drawer. Exposing the film stock to radioactive material destroys one mode of visual information while at the same time adding another. The result is a doubly synthetic topography. The energy of the past infects the present, and will continue to warp the future. Semipalatinsk is future fossil space.

Polygon III, 2014
Polygon V, 2014
Polygon X, 2014
Polygon XXX, 2014