Maarten Vanden Eynde

Trinity Test (1), Meessen De Clercq Gallery, Brussels (photo: Philippe de Gobert)

Trinity Test (1), Meessen De Clercq Gallery, Brussels (photo: Philippe de Gobert)

The first atomic bomb, nicknamed the ‘Gadget’, was detonated at the Trinity Test Site near Alamagordo in New Mexico (US) on 16 July 1945. It was part of the Manhattan Project, set up to develop a new weapon of unprecedented power. 'Trinity Test' is an aerial view of the site after the explosion. The black and white image is transferred on a slab of lead, the final stage of all uranium. The half-life with which uranium (U) decays to form lead (Pb) is 4.46 billion years, making uranium-lead or U-Pb dating one of the most refined and exact methods for determining the age of materials such as rocks or carbon. This radiometric dating technique looks for traces of radioactive impurities which allow the precise calculation of when matter was created or formed. 'Trinity Test' is a triptych dealing with the subjectivity of history and memory, visualising the inherently different accounts of this world-changing event. In the crater at the centre of the work is a gold imprint, prefiguring the award of the ‘golden spike’ marking the start of the Anthropocene to the beginning of the Atomic Age. A ‘golden spike’, more formally called a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP), is a marker in the environment created by a global event that leads to long-lasting global changes signalled in the geological record and which can be said to epitomise the start of a new geological epoch.