This performance-lecture turned video is the outcome of fieldwork at two international experimental nuclear fusion facilities (JET, UK and ITER, France), as well as research into the history of alchemical lineages and influence in modern art and the scientific method. Viriditas is a tool and mystical concept from the 12th century polymath abbess-turned-saint Hildegard von Bingen concerning health, growth, and the self-reproducing power of the ‘greening green’ of the vegetal world. The eponymous lecture-performance reflects on nuclearity, extraction, time, alchemical imagery, coloniality and the pursuit of a sustainable energy – one that could be partially alleviated by a ‘clean’ nuclear fusion energy source (NOT fission). Physicists have been attempting fusion, a complex plasma physics analogous to building and containing a miniature star on Earth, for more than 70 years – to no avail. A longer history of the attempt to capture and harness the stars indeed goes back many millennia, well before the modern period. This video situates some of those histories and allegories as a method for finding relations in a disrupted and separated world.
Viriditas was the result of a GeoHumanities Creating Earth Futures Commission, 2019 initiated by a series of field visits with collaborator Julian Weaver.
Jol Thoms is an internationally active artist and researcher in the final throes of a practice-led PhD with CREAM at the School of Arts, University of Westminster. His practice allows art, physics, philosophy, ecology and the ineffable to interfere with each other, producing excesses of possibilities for thinking an ethical, plural, and responsible future. He is currently exhibiting a new installation called ‘n-Land’ in the ‘Drift: Art and Dark Matter’ exhibition project in Canada that works with deep time, media ecology, and counterallegory to situate a Nobel prize winning physics laboratory in its settler colonial Treaty territory.