In Icon’s ruins issue (Icon 105, March 2012), we accompany the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division on a trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Animator and filmmaker Jonathan Gales was also on the trip, and made this short film with his studio Factory Fifteen, from footage shot in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Here’s his description of the film:
In a post-nuclear future, when the earth is riddled with radiation, a new urban developer proposes to regenerate the cities back into civilisation. GAMMA sets out to stabilise the atomic mistakes of yesteryear for the re-inhabitation of future generations. Using its patented 'Nuke-Root' technology; part fungi, part mollusc, GAMMA intends to soak up the radiation and remove it from the irradiated cities, rebuilding them in the process.
Setting out from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, GAMMA launches its RIG_01 BETA and heads east to the iconic disaster sites of 1980's USSR. The film follows a group of researchers investigating GAMMA's practice from launch to deployment. Moving through a trail of unsuccessful ships across the desert, we follow the researchers from Aralsk's littered seabed east to the Ukraine.
GAMMA begins its quest of nuclear stability in the Ukraine; Pripyat is used as a test bed for the deployment of GAMMA's patented 'Nuke-root' organisms. Intended to soak up the radiation, the roots infiltrate the ground and built structures to absorb the ‘nuclear nasty's'. As with many urban developers, GAMMA's execution is cheap and ineffective. The city is in turn rendered more radioactive, broken and uninhabitable than before, only now with an outbreak of growing 'Nuke-roots'. The film follows the researchers through the ruins of the 70's utopia, moving across a whole city that consists solely of desolation and total abandon, the researchers witness the aftermath of GAMMA's almighty cock-up.
GAMMA was filmed in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan in association with the Unknown Fields Division.