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Uranium Hex

Sandra Lahire

UK, 1987
11 minutes, Colour, Magnetic, 4:3
Original format: 16mm Film
Available formats: HD Digital file

“When bright yellow uranium oxide leaves the crushing mill to be refined to uranium hex, the waste is shot out through pipes, often into the drinking water of native Canadians’ reservations, mutating the only gene pool…these are the conditions underlying our electricity from nuclear reactors.” – Sandra Lahire.

“Uranium Hex by SANDRA LAHIRE deals with uranium mining in Canada focussing particularly on the woman’s work and the destruction of the environment; the film uses a kaleidoscopic array of experimental techniques such as superimposition, re-filming, changes of speed, pace and an elaborate layering of sounds where ‘atmos’ recording mixes with voices, music. The constantly shifting images provide instances with extremely filmic qualities: the image of a man digging out uranium is superimposed over a woman”s back while brash sounds of machinery are heard and a woman speaks, “…it was like being under an X-ray machine day and night”. The film proposes a number of visual instances operating on different levels but never gelling together, the layers of images and sounds are disruptive, breaking up the surface, giving the piece a textural complexity. ‘No-one is allowed to film the inside of the crushing mill, but I am working on acid-coloured printing and video performance techniques, treating voices and fields of industrial sounds as well as making local speech come to the foreground of the composition.’ The recurring image of the film-maker (looking into the frame as if by the light of her headlamp) gives testimony to the images of mine shafts, drilling marks, X-rays of chests with lung cancer, confronting the viewer’s own look, his/her perception of these images.Questions around the visual pleasure of this aesthetic collage, as to the beauty of the images are endemic in any appraisal of its political aim. What is certain is that the aggressive control and the subjective address create a self-reflective tension, engaging and disturbing the viewer. – Michael Maziere, Independent Media, March 1988.

“Lahire’s “Uranium Hex” is free-form – a pointillistic Geiger-counter crackle of visuals that deploys a number of experimental techniques to find an image for the radioactivity that slips unseen into the air. – Steven Bode.The film is characterised by a dense and compact editing style with every second conveying information in image and sound; the personal is nothing but political.” – Piccadilly Film/Video Festival, June 1988.