Geiger Counter

Case Pyhäjoki reflects and radiates art & activism

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

3d0e04e51fb5c6310f91277d3bca9b3bAndrew Paterson got in touch to highlight the Case Pyhäjoki transdisciplinary expedition and production workshop having seen our earlier posts from Su Grierson in Fukushima Province, Japan.  A group of artists, researchers and activists undertook a drift to Pyhäjoki in Northern Finland at the beginning of August 2013.  Pyhäjoki is the proposed location of a new nuclear power plant.  This is their press release, and hopefully we’ll have some reflections from Andrew in due course.

Erich Berger and Martin Howse organised a geiger counter building workshop in Case Pyhäjoki. For the workshop, they designed an easy to build geiger counter and now, they have made a geiger counter building manual based on this design. The manual is available as a download from the project website. Photo courtesy of project * * twitter #casepyhajoki

Case Pyhäjoki – Artistic reflections on nuclear influence is a trans-disciplinary expedition and production workshop in Pyhäjoki, Northern Finland 1. – 11.8.2013. The sixth nuclear power plant of the country is planned to be built in Pyhäjoki.

Participants of Case Pyhäjoki are for example artists, researchers and activists. The programme has consisted of lectures, meeting local people and expeditions of different kinds to get to know the area, nuclear power as a phenomenon, and what the power plant means to people. It reaches from the local to national and global. What is artist’s role in the changes in the area and wider? How can we develop methods of creative work in a complex and contested place of social tragedy and distress? How can we communicate this through to wider networks?

As well as talking, thinking and research, there is also time for action. The participants have created different types of engagements, prototype events and experiments, reaching from a large ‘thank you’ sign for those who refuse to sell their land to the nuclear power company, to the design of a ‘power sports day’, a local fairytale, aswell as a mural painting with local youth, a special karaoke playlist, and a DIY geiger counter building workshop.

The contributing presentations, workshops, expeditions and refections are documented online at and

See also links to the broadcasted lectures on the website.

The final ‘show & tell’ day during the residency period took place on Sunday 11.8. at 14.00 in the local Parhalahti School, close to the location of Hanhikivi, the actual site for the planned nuclear power plant.

The participants of Case Pyhäjoki are:
Ryoko Akama (JP/UK), Erich Berger (AT/FI), Brett Bloom (US/DK), Bonnie Fortune (US/DK), Carmen Fetz (AT), Antye Greie-Ripatti (FI/DE), Martin Howse (UK/DE), Mari Keski-Korsu (FI), Maarit Laihonen (FI), Liisa Louhela (FI), Pik Ki Leung (HK), Mikko Lipiäinen (FI), Shin Mizukoshi (JP), Helene von Oldenburg (DE), Opposite_Solutions (RO), Andrew Gryf Paterson (SCO/FI), Leena Pukki (FI), and Heidi Räsänen (FI).  For more information on the participants go here.

Case Pyhäjoki is supported by Kone Foundation and Arts Promotion Centre of Finland.

Contact: Mari Keski-Korsu,
Case Pyhäjoki artistic director & executive producer
+358 40 506 5871
mkk (ät)

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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The Life of Pipe

This post comes to you from Shrimp Boat Projects

The iconography of a Texas oil field (postcard from Tyler, TX); Scrap yard in Houston where we bought our used oil field pipe; Fitting the pipe to the starboard bulwark of our boat; Testing the pipe for Alpha radiation with a rented geiger counter; Safe readings on the geiger counter!

It seems that everything we fix on our shrimp boat has a unique story built into it, and the gunwales we replaced a few weeks ago are no different. When we bought the boat, we inherited a particularly sad set of gunwales wrapping all sides of the boat… rotting lumber, corroding steel, burned-out pvc, a ton of poorly-applied bondo (a cement-like substance typically used on automotive body repair), these were perhaps the most visible imperfections in the boat. And so it was no surprise that upon buying the boat, we immediately set out to replace the gunwales. What we didn’t anticipate was that reclaimed oil field pipe would make a great gunwale on a shrimp boat. We need to credit John Collins for pointing us in this direction. Just a casual glance around his boat yard reveals the variety of his projects that have all used oil field pipe in some way.

Using oil field pipe as anything on a shrimp boat might sound odd,  but using the reclaimed pipe was another way for us to work within the specifics of our region. Although the largest deposits of oil may no longer be in Texas, the economy of oil and gas still permeates the state and especially the Houston region (see the previous posting). So oil field pipe is easy to find around here. You can find it in an array of gauges, widths and lengths, new and used. We found a steel scrap yard on Highway 59 in north Houston that had the right pipe for us at the right price. We borrowed John Collins’ trailer and bought four 30ft lengths with an inside diameter of 2″ and a gauge of 0.154″ (schedule 40). This doesn’t look like pipe that would bend around the curve of our boat, but sure enough, with enough cable come-alongs, levers, ropes and the help of friends,  it did.

Soon enough, oil field pipe actually seemed like the obvious choice for our gunwales. Until we got the following email from our friend John Reed who had helped us out on the boat one day: “I was talking with a friend of mine last night and we wandered onto the effect of Japan’s nukes on the scrap metal industry.  He (is in the scrap metal industry) told me that they are ALWAYS worried about radiation in scrap metal; the metal is often rejected by steel buyers if levels are too high.  ‘What kind of steel would be radio-active?’ I asked naively.  ‘Oil drilling pipe, medical equipment, stuff like that.’ he said.” Our next thought: we have a radioactive shrimp boat! So we investigated the matter and found some good background on the issue and learned that any radiation in oil field pipe is related to the NORMS and TENORMS. And we realized the only way to sleep well at night would be to test our pipe with geiger counter. Fortunately, geiger counters are rentable…but there was another catch. The tsunami had just hit Japan, nuclear fallout was spreading from damaged nuclear reactors, and every company in Houston area that would normally rent a geiger counter was shipping them to Japan. We got lucky and found a single remaining geiger counter at Suntrac in League City, TX, about 20 minutes from our boat. One hour and $50 later, we determined that none of our pipe, or anything else in John’s Boatyard was above standard background levels of radiation. Relief. We’ve had more exciting stories unfold on our boat since this episode, but thankfully no more involving radiation.


Shrimp Boat Projects is a creative research project that explores the regional culture of the Houston area. The primary site of the investigation is a working shrimp boat on Galveston Bay which serves as a catalyst for labor, discussion and artistic production. Shrimp Boat Projects is co-created by Eric Leshinsky and Zach Moser, artists-in-residence at the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

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