Through The White Contamination series, Florian Ruiz (winner of the 2018 Sony Prize) has tried to reveal the invisible in photography: the presence of radioactivity in the Japanese landscape after the nuclear accident of Fukushima.
“In the snowy landscapes of the heights of Fukushima, I have captured the invisible pain of radiation. Inspired by the Japanese engravings, I hoped to capture the ever-shifting perceptions of nature, where radiation accumulates the most.
With a Geiger counter, I measured the radioactive contamination’s presence in Becquerels (Bq), a unit that expresses atom disintegration and its mutation's number per second. By a process of staggered superimpression, I intended to show the atom’s alteration in my pictures. The transparency effects, the broken perspectives give rise to a shape that is in motion, an impermanent world as in traditional Japanese engravings. Then, I created a vibration, a departure from the reality of the subject that reveals the presence of radiation in the image. The process reinvents and twists the very landscape, leading to a sort of vertigo or malaise, a threatening danger hidden behind the purity of the white of the landscapes. As the disturbing whiteness of Moby Dick, whiteness object of terror for the Man, the purity of the white contrasts with the presence of the invisible stain of radioactivity”. Florian RUIZ