Critical Mass, 1980. Blue pearl granite, engraved text, goldleaf and silver paint.
Dimensions: 15 x 67 x 7 cm. Collection of the artist.
Critical mass is the minimum amount of fissile material needed to maintain a nuclear chain reaction. Critical mass could also mean a church mass full of criticism, ie a mass criticising something, or full of critical (important) material. Mass media being critical? The current trend is instead towards blurring truth, making lies into seeming facts through repetition, curtailing debate.
The presence of the 'gold bar' shifts the capital 'c' to a lowercase 'k'. The critical becomes kritical, and as with the spelling of America as Amerika, there is an implied threat. Simultaneously, the 'critical mass' presses against a mysterious precious point: perhaps this is a trigger point, the moment before explosion.