Atomic Tour - City of the Damned
(manuscript from the guided tour)

Sørlandets Kunstmuseum - Julius Hougens Plass:

Hello everyone.

My name is Annika Lundgren, and I would like to start by welcoming you all on board.

I will be your guide on this tour, which will take us through the central area of Kristiansand, recapitulating it’s recent history.

We are fortunate enough to have Karl Olav Segrov from Sørlandets Kunstmuseum with us on this trip, and, and together we will do our best to assist you with any questions or requests you may have along the way.

The trip will take approximately one hour and we will be making frequent stops, providing refreshments and allowing for photo opportunities.

Now, please make yourselves comfortable. 
I hope that you will enjoy this excursion with Public Educational Tours today.

Our world is radioactive and has been since it was created. Over 60 radionuclides –or radioactive elements– can be found in nature, and they can be placed in three general categories:

- Primordial - from before the creation of the Earth   
- Cosmogenic - formed as a result of sources outside of our solar system. 
- Human produced - enhanced or formed due to human actions 

Radionuclides are found naturally in air, in the rocks and soil that make up our planet, in water and oceans and in our building materials and homes. Every day, we ingest and inhale them in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Thus, they are also found in us, being that we are products of our environment. An environment which is partly given by nature and partly created by man.

In the 1930:s, the area around Wergelandsparken in Kvadraturen which we have just left behind us, constituted a nexus of power in the Kristiansand community.  

At the time, the esteemed Kristiansand Cathedral School, with a heritage dating back to the 17:th century, was located in the very same building-complex that Sørlandets Kunstmuseum inhabits today. It was sharing its quarters with the Kristiansand Art Collection and The Kristiansand Museum - later to become the Agder Museum of Natural History. 

Across the square resided another institution of considerable authority; the regional newspaper Friend of the Fatherland (Fædrelandsvennen) founded in 1875 and covering the southernmost part of the country, focusing especially on the area around Kristiansand.

Along with the massive Cathedral, towering over the city center, those agencies formed a powerful unity representing the religious, scientific, cultural and political values dictating the Kristiansand society at the time. 

Today, most of those agencies have moved to other venues, with undiminished influence in terms of shaping the community.

An additional strong establishment was the Sørlandet division of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, which in 1933 was transformed from a privately owned company into a government owned public-service broadcaster under the management of Julius Hougen.

In it’s new capacity and with a monopoly on broadcasting in Norway which would last until 1980, it was now under obligation to serve the people, to prioritize national content and to persist in an independent editing of all reporting.

at Julius Hougens Plass:

1933 saw a lot of political activity in Norway, and during it’s first year in existance, NRK Sørlandet –in the blue building, now visible on your left hand side– was busy covering the parliamentary election and the founding of two new parties; the Christian Democratic Party and the National Unity Party.

Those broacasts, however, were all easily overshadowed by a far more spectacular news bulletin, taking place in the end of November the same year, containing an account of a bizarre phenomenon which had been registered on what is today the City Beach, or Bystranda, visible on your right hand side now. 

At the time the beach was merely a modest strip of sand surrounding a small harbor situated in the industrial area that constituted Tangen at the time.

Julius Hougens Plass - Hamreheia utsikt:

According to the report, a bright green light had attracted the attention of nocturnal bypassers in the area, and on approaching the beach they had observed a layer of fluorescent fog floating two feet above the sand, continuously forming and dissolving sinister shapes. Some witnesses also claimed to have heard high-pitched, vibrating sounds accompanying the visual manifestation.  

While the different testemonies diverge on several points, they all agree on the inexplicable pattern, repeated endlessly in the sand and which –for a short while– could be observed in the early morning after the incident before being erased by the tide.  

A number of drawings depicting it have been preserved at Kristiansands City Museum, along with a handful of blurry photographs. While the quality of the images is poor, there is no doubt that they derive from the same source.

Although the reported sightings were largely unsubstantiated beyond those meagre documents, the occurrence still attracted the attention of the Church of Norway, causing this institution much anxiety. 

In the Christmas sermon in Kristiansands Cathedral that year, bishop James Maroni addressed the incident as a warning sign, foreboding God’s wrath over the unholyness of contemporary living in general and new technology –such as radio– in particular and cautioned his congregation to abandon the vanities of the modern world and turn to the literal word of the Bible. 

Somewhat paradoxically, this sermon was broadcasted from NRK Sørlandet at noon on Christmas Day, and can be found in the NRK Radio Archive. 

The appellation "the Bible Belt" has historically been applied to the Southern and Western parts of Norway where the conservative branch of the Church of Norway has a stronghold. 

Traditionally this area reflects the support for the Christian Democratic Party which came about as a reaction to the growing secularism in Norway, and which strongly supports religious values.

Over the years it has been opposing alcohol, popular music, abortion, pornography, gas-fired power stations, homosexuality, tobacco, materialism, evolutionism, egotism, color-TV and euthanasia.

Today, however, an increasing group of Christian voters dissatisfied with a slackening of their restrictive policies is turning to the Progress Party   

We are now crossing Lundsbrua, which was finished in 1938. Due to a series of technical difficulties, the construction phase was unexpectedly long – the casting of the pylons was in fact already well under way at the time of the mysteries incident with the fog in the Tangen area. 

An article in Fædrelandsvennen, published a month after the inauguration of the bridge, revealed that this strange occurrence was not yet forgotten by everyone. A handful of people claimed in the readers column that the bridge emitted a faint green glow in the hours before dawn, and that this phenomenon was a result of the sand in the cement making up it’s fundament - local sand, which (to quote bishop Maroni) was evidently possessed by the devil.    

This, however was two years before the Nazi occupation of Norway, and the pre-war tension was overshadowing all other matters. In the face of this approaching and very real danger, the superstitious tale of the damned bridge was, understandably, almost completely ignored. 

During the Kristiansands recovery after the war, the borough of Lund, which we have now entered, was heavily expanded. 

One of its proudest features from this period are the yellow Bauhaus-style houses, now on your left, designed by Thilo Schoder. 

The city was granting large sums for housing in all districts, but shortage of accommodation remained a problem for quite some time, as Kristiansand was expanding quicker than any other Norwegian municipality between 1930 and 1950. 

Several features from Kristiansand of the 30‘s are discernible in the cityscape, and we are now approaching Hamreheia viewpoint, where we will step out of the bus for a minute to take a look at some of them, trying to imagine the city at the time. 

We will also enjoy some refreshments.

at Hamreheia Utsikt:

Karl Olav points out buildings from the 1930’s.

Hamreheia Utsikt - Lasaretthøyden:

Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings, is silicon dioxide, usually in the form of quartz.

A common industrial area of use is the manufacturing of building material such as brick, cob, mortar, concrete, glass and paint.

We will now move forward in time some 40 years to April 8:th in 1973 when Norwegian environmental researchers performing a routine control on behalf of the newly formed United Nations Environment Program, register radically heightened levels of radioactivity in the sand along the shores in the Kristiansand area.

The measurements are so extreme that after a few days the procedure is repeated for a double check, on which occasion the values turn out to be normal. The previous results are put down to an error in the technical equipment and are dismissed from the records.

Some months later, in the midst of holiday seson, local shops get complaints from tourists having purchased little hour glasses promoting the Kristiansand beaches - a common souvenir in this period of time. 

The cause of the dissatisfaction is that the sand passes notably quicker through the contraption than the advertised three minutes, but due to the relatively modest sum of money involved,  the matter is acknowledged only as an amusing incident and is forgotten almost instantly.

Attracting somewhat more attention in Kristiansand that summer are the large sand-formations emerging over night on various beaches, disrupting the sunbathing and beach-activities. 

Their sheer size cancel out childrens play, and they are initially presumed to be the result of the mischief of adults. Guards are positioned in the affected areas efter dark to prevent the interventions, but new formations keep turning up regardless - apparently at a supernatural speed and as the guards’ heads are turned the other way.

Contrary to the concerns expressed by the city council, however, the mysterious phenomenon enhances rather than deters the city’s attraction for visitors, thus limiting the ambition to curtail the incidents. 

The assumption that they are caused by some extra-terrestrial influence is now flourishing, and NRK Sørlandet makes a promotional half hour item about “The Kristiansand Curiosities” on prime time that summer, further increasing the stream of tourists. 

The item is followed by an interview with Anders Lange; the leader of the newly founded Anders Langes Party - later the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), which would turn out to secure four mandates and 5% of the votes in the Norwegian Parliamentary election later that year.

In the beginning of August, staff at the emergency room at Kristiansands main hospital, Sørlandets Sykehus, report a wave of patients displaying what resembles burn marks - according to medical experts similar to what can be observed in cases of Acute Radiation Syndrome. 

In none of those cases, the origin of the marks is known to the carrier, and sun-burn can be ruled out as they appear exclusively on body parts covered by clothing. Another notable feature is that the marks are all identical in shape. 

At the psychiatric ward is simultaneously noted a radical increase in patients suffering from apprehension, agression, auditory and optical illusions, hallucinations and suspicion bordering on paranoia. Frequently corresponding, those physical and psychological features are assumed to derive from the same source, and are believed to be symptoms of a new form of virus. 

Apparently transmitted through the air, the disease is spreading quickly but effecting people selectively – whereas some individuals are highly receptive others seem to be virtually immune.  

Children remain unexceptionally unaffected.  

Similar cases are soon reported from hospitals all over the country and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has confirmed from the World Health Organization that corresponding phenomena have in fact been recorded in several European countries. 

As the account of the sympthoms is differing from place to place, however, they can not be connected with certainty, and while still occupied with the ramifications of the Yugoslavia smallpox epidemic in 1972, the WHO pays only marginal attention to the issue at this time.

Furthermore, the burn marks subside after a few weeks and while it is established that the virus remains dormant in afflicted individuals, the phenomenon is being excempted from being classified as an emergency.

The impact on social conditions –caused by an increasing antagonism between those infected and those non-infected– remains a source of concern for social analysts 

In the face of those strange events, an increasing group of peope persist in the idea of paranormal forces contaminating the city, and a wave of rumors, all involving tales of supernatural sand, floods Kristiansand in this period. 

Some such examples are the stories of the strange behavior of the lions in the savannah-facility in Kristiansand Zoological Gardens, and the certified impossibility of sinking a ball into a hole at the newly formed Kristiansand Golf Club on Tuesday afternoons.   
Given ample room in media, those tales stirs up a frenzy among the citizens, no doubt further enhanced by the fact that American sci-fi movies reaches Europe at this time, and is very much in vogue in cinemas all over Norway.
People falling into (and, unrealistically, being submerged in) quicksand or a similar substance is a trope of adventure fiction, notably in movies. This gimmick had its heyday in the 1970s, when almost 3% of all films showed someone sinking in mud, sand, or clay. The proliferation of quicksand scenes in movies has given rise to an internet subculture scene dedicated to the topic.

In 1973, Kristiansand was also dealing with the aftermath of the 1972 bombing of the newspaper Fædrelandsvennen at Wergelandsparken, which blew the building to pieces necessitating a complete rebuild. 
The main perpetrator was eventually convicted by the supreme court to 9 years of inprisonment, but maintained throughout the trial that his actions had been necessary to protect the city from psychokinetic signals, beaming from the papers publications and corrupting the minds of it’s readers. 
This statement was published in all national media, providing further fuel for the commotion in Kristiansand.
Around Christmas-time the same year, an exhibition featuring historical Norwegian landscape painters opened at the Kristiansand Art Collection. One work in the show – a small canvas from the early 30‘s by a little known artist– attracted particular attention as in it’s rendition of a Kristiansand beach, the sand displays a peculiar behaviour. This was pointed out by several visitors as proof that the strange incidents of 1973 were in fact predated by others. 

And as we know, they were to be followed by more.

This period in time coincides with another hectic time of growth in the community. Kristiansand has developed steadily over the last 100 years, and in the early 1970‘s the expansion of the city reaches it’s peak. 

Having arrived now at Lasaretthøyden, which provides an excellent view of the city center, Karl Olav will tell us about some of the many architechtural erections from this time.

Refreshments will be provided.


Karl Olav points out buildings from the 1970’s.

Lasaretthøyden - Fyrarna utsikt:

Communications sciences and biology are constructions of natural-technical objects of knowledge in which the difference between machine and organism is thoroughly blurred; mind, body, and tool are on very intimate terms. 

Technology is not neutral. We're inside of what we make, and it's inside of us. We're living in a world of connections — and it matters which ones get made and unmade.

The talk of paranormal forces ultimately subsided in Kristiansand. The virus-outbreak had transformed the community on some intangible level, but the subtle changes were eventually normalized in society, and for a over a decade, peace ruled – at least on the surface.
NRK starts television broadcasts in color, Norway issues a law to prevent discrimination against homosexuals as the first country in the world, Gro Harlem Brundtland becomes the first female prime minister and skateboarding is banned. 
The harmony is disrupted by an unexplained light in Hessdalen Valley in Sør-Trøndelag which is believed to be caused by UFOs and which proceeds a wave of new inexplicable episodes related to sand between the mid-80‘s and mid-90‘s.
Science has now reached a point where they can be conclusively linked to periodically increased levels of radio activity, and science is struggling hard to understand this transitory aspect of the phenomenon, contradicting all known theories about the half-life of radiation. 

In approximately the same period, it is established that the virus –having returned full force and afflicting an increasing percentage of Norwegian citizens– is indeed caused by this new form of radiation - a discovery which has turned the medical world and it’s understanding of the nature of viruses upside down . 

Thus, a connection between the two circumstances is ultimately established, and the phenomenon is subsequently labeled “Atomic Virus” or simply “AV”       

In the mid-90’s, it is suggested by local fishermen that Oksøy Lighthouse is in fact predicting the outbursts of the virus - a hypothesis which on inspection turns out to be correct. 

While ordinarily sending out two white flashes every 45 seconds to alert ships approaching the Kristiansand harbor, this rythm is interrupted 12 hours prior to each outbreak and replaced by a series of rapid blinks.

Furthermore, this is met by a response from the Odderøya Lighthouse, mirroring the Oksøy signal - a circumstance which conclusively rules out human intervention, as this station was automated in 1984.  

From the cliffs ahead, we will be able to observe the line of vision between the two beacons. 
Please follow me.
There will be refreshments.     

at Fyrarna Utsikt:

I point out the two light houses.

Fyrarna Utsikt - Radiomasten:

Towards the end of the 90’s, another important clue to the mystery of  the Atomic Virus is found, as the trigger provoking the radio activity is discovered.  

The radio mast on Odderøya is clearly visible from everywhere in the city and constitutes it’s highest point. Despite it’s visual prominence, however, very little information about it’s history and purpose is available to the public. 

Odderøya is historically a miltary area, and it is likely that the broadcaster has been used both by the Norwegian army and by different phone companies; first by the public Norwegian Televerket, and later by different private companies. 

Odderøya was opened to the public in 1992, but it was only in the beginning of last year that it was revealed to the public that an entirely different kind of activity is taking place there as well - something that had been known by the military for a good 30 years.

In the gaps between regular operations, a computer virus activates an alien function where the antenna gather both radio waves and micro waves from TV- and radio-stations, cell-phones and the internet,  converting them to a new format and re-broadcasts these manipulated hybrid-waves over the city, presumably generating the radioactive phenomena observed in Kristiansand.

When this classified information was eventually out in the open, it turned out that very little could be done to remedy the situation, as the computer virus causing the hybrid waves, despite repeated attempts made by computer experts proved inpossible to discontinue.

Demands to simply demolish the mast are being met by resistance from military and politicians alike, maintaining that the useful functions of the broadcaster superceed the drawbacks - especially as those have not yet been sufficiently verified. 

Furthermore, researchers from within the fields of physics and computer technology also oppose a dismantling due to security reasons. In the absence of a complete understanding and analysis of how those new and unmapped forces might react to such an intervention, and could potentially bring about a distastrous scenario.       

Presently, Kristiansand is so to speak held hostage by the broadcaster at Odderøya. 

We have come to the very site of the mast now, and for this particular occasion we have been granted an exclusive permission to approach it. For your own security, however, I would like to ask you to maintain a safe distance to the plant, and by no means touch anything.

No photography is allowed at this close proximity.
There will, however, be refreshments to keep you otherwise occupied. 

at Radiomasten:

we contemplate the construction

Radiomasten - Dueknipe:

The Sorites Paradox –sometimes translated as the paradox of the heap– arises from vague predicats. A typical formulation involves a heap of sand, from which grains are individually removed.

Under the assumption that removing a single grain does not turn a heap into a non-heap, the paradox is to consider what happens when the process is repeated enough times: is a single remaining grain (or even no grains at all) still a heap? If not, when did it change from a heap to a non-heap?

One of many possible approaches available to solve the problem is to use a multi-valued logic. Instead of two logical states, heap and not-heap, a three value system can be used, for example heap, indeterminate and not-heap.

However, three valued systems do not truly resolve the paradox as there is still a dividing line between heap and indeterminate and also between indeterminate and not-heap. 

The third truth-value can be understood as a truth gap.

2001 brought an explosive propagation of the Atomic Virus, and since then the crisis has been a more or less permanent state. We saw the latest severe occurrence in Norway only a couple of weeks ago - an emergency the consequences of which we cannot yet begin to imagine.  

The sympthoms of today’s epidemic differ slightly both from it’s manifestation in the 1930:s and the 1970:s, but after the WHO’s scientific research and investigation-project in 2005, there is no doubt that they are in fact generations of the same virus, and that it seems to grow increasingly stronger and more resistant, the amount of its victims escalating rapidly.

Today approximately 50% of the Norwegian population is contaminated , although it is difficult to find reliable figures as the virus is not detectable while dormant. 

The fact that the reactive sand gradually has become a permanet part of the infrastructure throughout this last century makes the task to limit the consequences of it’s increasingly frequent radioactive outbursts difficult indeed. 

The situation is by no means unique for Norway but must be classified as an international matter, and researchers around the world are working ceaselessly to answer the two most crusial questions surrounding the Atomic Virus: 

What is the origin of this strange phenomenon? and What is the cure?

Regarding the first of those challenges, two different theories presently dominate the contemporary discourse:

Recent findings by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, show that single celled bacteria might in fact have the ability to convert electro magnetic radiation to nuclear radiation.
The research revolves around a feature called circular DNA , which is found in simple organisms like viruses and bacteria. As free electrons move around these loops, a radio wave can be produced — and as quantum objects, these electrons can also take on different energy levels. 
If those speculations turn out to be correct,  it would shake the entire bedrock of modern science.
The second hypothesis is based on an announcement made by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the beginning of April last year, declaring a breakthrough in their pursuit to develop “intelligent sand”.  

In this ground breaking experiment, robot pebbles intercommunicating through built-in micro processors suggest a definite step towards a material capable of carrying and reacting to information on a highly advanced level and in different ways. It has been suggested that a confidential version of this line of research was developed in Norway already some 80 years before the MIT reached this point. 

Those alternatives, provided by the Boston University and the MIT respectively, thus operate with completely separate kinds of processes. 
The most significant way in which they differ, however, is perhaps that in the first scenario, the disaster is caused by nature and in the other by man.

In terms of a cure for the resulting virus, however, no evident answer seems to be at hand. 

Current suggestions are ranging from a slow and methodical treatment of each individual case, based on a combination of medical and psychotherapeutical methods, to a swift and efficient erradication of all afflicted individuals to prevent the contagion from spreading.

Unfortunately, the former of the two proposals would –if effective– require more time than what is available, while he latter was rendered invalid as it turned out to origin from a medical researcher in a progressed stage of the AV-disease. 

While, the Church is advocating putting the matter in God’s hands and politicians are urging the enforcement of restrictions against infected individuals, there is no doubt that the situation is truly critical. 

All hope is not lost, however. Lately, a new possibility seems to be emerging, brought forth by proponents globally – especially within the young generation. 

Their approach consists in a refusal to draw a strict line between those carrying the virus and those who don’t, and instead investigate the possibility that we are all contaminated to some extent, and that this realization might teach us what the mechanisms of this disease really are and how to handle them.   

Activism, collaborative projects and seminars based on this method are developed as we speak, and so far it is the only one that has achived any results.  

There is no doubt that this modus operandi will require an immense effort in terms of introspection as well as solidarity, but to quote Marie Curie, the way of progress is neither swift, nor easy.

We have almost arrived at the very last destination on our tour, the viewpoint Dueknipen, which was established by Kristiansand city in 1929.

Reaching the top will require a small minute walk, but I can assure you that the breathtaking view is well worth the effort. From this point, it is easy to imagine a more innocent time, before Kristiansand was seized by the Atomic Virus.

Also, refreshments will be served at the top.

at Dueknipe:

we admire the view

Dueknipe - Sørlandets Kunstmuseum:

We are on our way back to our starting point now, and for this last stretch of the way, you will be treated to I a series of sound-clips from the NRK radio archive.

(Historical radio-clips where right wing politicians throughout the Norwegian history comment on various societal issues are played over the loudspeakers in the bus)

at Sørlandets Kunstmuseum:

And with this, we have come to the end of our tour, where Karl Olav and I will be leading the way safely back to Sørlandets Museum.
I hope you have had a pleasant time with us, and I wish you a continued good evening back at Sørlandets Museum and the exhibition opening.

On behalf of Public Educational Tours, I thank you for accompanying us today.