OPEN CARE is a set of artifacts which propose a social thought experiment: what if nuclear waste were a very personal responsibility and thus part of our everyday life and our cities? It is an imaginary system for distributed nuclear waste storage which implicates us intimately in a much longer swathe of the future than most of us can imagine easily. The waste is encapsulated in steel pellets mounted in a bronze disk. An electroscope, gold leaf, an electrostatic rod, and fur to charge it are provided along with instructions to check the level of radioactivity periodically, from generation to generation, to ascertain whether the waste of which you are custodian has become safe “or if you and your descendants need to continue to care about it.” Rendering the huge timescale of radioactive decay into more meaningful units of lifetimes opens the question of collective care from a fresh perspective.
Erich Berger and Mari Keto, OPEN CARE, mixed media, 2016.