NB 41


Work in Progress

"Human stories are modulated by materials like niobium (Nb), and these in turn are modulated by human stories. The story of Nb goes back as far as 1.3 billion years ago, it starts in a place called Rodinia, one of many supercontinents that once assembled most of all Earth’s continental blocks or cratons, forming a single continental zone. Today Rodinia’s Precambrian igneous rocks can be found by following the geological shields that, in addition to being the oldest rocks in the planet, provide a foundation for diverse biomes like the Amazon Forest, the Artic Tundra, and the Boreal Forest. Besides the materiality of the biophysical world within processes of scientific knowledge creation, there are human and non-human stories that participate actively in the construction of the world. These stories are engraved on the Precambrian rock, as pictograms and petroglyphs along some parts of the Guiana Shield, or sculpted as SRF cavities for particle accelerators."

This research-creation project takes the example of Nb, a mineral important to many emerging technologies and physics research, to examine the complex contemporary interactions between science, up-and-coming technologies, extraction industries, and Indigenous communities. Niobium is unique for its place in developing new technologies ranging from supercolliders, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, to spacecraft, and for its role in contemporary techno-scientific imaginaries of the future of human life. Through research-creation, this study explores the cultural representations of this future, that are stimulated by these technologies, both within the scientific community and within the Indigenous communities where niobium is mined.