40 Jahre Kernspaltung (40 years of Nuclear Fission) is a fake scientific work pretending to illustrate the origins and the characteristics of nuclear fission, showing 40 black and white images of mushrooms clouds.
The book is in fact the personal work of photographer Peter Tillessen. The sculptural shapes appearing as nuclear clouds are actually the whitey excrements of the black-headed earthworm that infests the area of cemetery of Zurich. Intertwined with the images the book presents textual descriptions of the nuclear fission, a text by Darwin about earthworms and a text of the same artist who describes his childhood as a son of an atomic engineer.
The number 40 is no accident: the artist took these pictures at his fortieth birthday and gave them to a friend to pay off a debt from a lost bet. At the age of 27 Tillessen pretended to his friend he would be father of a big family (like his father) at the age of 40. Through a personal and intimate account of his life, the artist aimed to evoke earth’s precarity during the nuclear age and to explore the more general matter of evolution.
The book is published by Kodoji Press.