Thornton’s newly conceived film is formed around several voices – from cold to melancholic, to anxious – all at textural odds with each other. An entry point to the work is the artist’s metaphorical use of the Higgs Boson, first encountered in her recent residency with Richards at CERN. In her own words, “the Higgs field can be described as a gel that whips through particles and precipitates attractions.” The voices range from a phone recording made during the Trump election, to an eyewitness account of the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, and an intimate and distressed encounter between the artist and her partner discussing the Higgs and the difference between thought and language. These disparate voices speak to one point in a way that is unnerving, bringing a kind of visceral imaging of the instability that humankind enacts upon itself into a present tense.
Interwoven into this new work is Thornton’s complex emotional response to her own family history. Both the artist’s father and grandfather (unbeknownst to each other at the time) were engineers in the Manhattan Project, and it was Thornton’s father who screwed the last bolt into the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Before loading it onto the plane he wrote his own, his father’s and mother’s names on the bomb casing – an inscription of familial dedication, and authorship, a complex legacy that has preoccupied the artist and her work in an ongoing way.
Text: Fatima Hellberg, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart