Wilson’s work recalls the adage, coined by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. His projects, which often integrate glass into performances, use the material to explore the connections between science and alchemy.
For his 2009 performance “Trinity Pilgrimage,” Wilson traveled to the Trinity Nuclear Test site in New Mexico dressed as Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (one of the nuclear physicists responsible for creating the atomic bomb). Wilson’s pilgrimage entailed searching for and collecting trinitite, a rare and radioactive form of glass that was the product of the 1945 nuclear weapons testing.
His resulting “Trinitite Reliquary” series (2010–present), which presents small nuggets of trinitite suspended in glass orbs, is a beautiful yet grim reminder of our nuclear history. Wilson sees glass as having the very real power to connect the past and future. “Glassworking as a tradition has remained relatively unchanged for centuries, if not millennia,” he says. “With sufficient care in its construction and cooling, human-made glass can exist in geologic time.”