An Introduction to The Evolution of Silence.

An exploration of memory and destruction, ‘The Evolution of Silence’ is a multi-dimensional project that encompasses drawing, interactive design, mapping, printmaking, and installation. It is a creative investigation into the dramatic transformation of the Yucca Flat valley of the Nevada Test Site (Nevada National Security Site)—the site of experimental, post-World War II nuclear detonations.

I am creating a web-based archive, installation, and publication that present an exploration of a restricted landscape, and a visual mapping and interpretation of its destruction. ‘The Evolution of Silence’ allows one to bypass government boundaries and control of the area, making it possible for any individual to experience a cold war’s aftermath and silence.

The project gives form and expression to the data that I have gathered and organized, and is unique to other existing documentation of the Nevada Test Site in that it preserves an individual view of every nuclear detonation that occurred in Yucca Flat valley (828 nuclear explosions in total). The valley’s pockmarked surface of sink-hole craters is simultaneously beautiful and horrific. Considering the toll on the environment and the cost to human life, the valley is an important symbol of the impact of war.

I have been working on ‘The Evolution of Silence’ for a few years. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte funded my initial field research in 2008 (thank you), and since then, I have been working to design and develop an experience of a place of conflict for others. Thanks to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I have a sabbatical for the Fall 2012 semester and am going to be finishing Part 1 of the project: a web-based archive that presents multiple perspectives and experiences of the destruction. Part 2 will take place in 2013, as I prepare for the project’s extension and arrange for its public exhibition.

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2 Responses to An Introduction to The Evolution of Silence.

  1. Millie

    9/6/12 Hi Rach: Your blog is a great idea. I’ve been exploring the 1955 test because of my interest in the federal government’s emphasis on Civil Defense shelters–widenspread focus on these in 1956 when I came to live in Washington DC–families were building dugout types and apartment buildings (including the Avondale) were equipping secure basement level rooms with water/food and other supplies in case of a nuclear disaster. Reading Nevel Shute’s book “On the Beach” about that same time made a strong impact on me. In the Nevada test of 1955, mannequins were used (I’ve learned) and in both interior cement-walled bathroom and subbasement settings. I haven’t uncovered any documention yet on the results of the evaluation of food products safety/contamination.
    One source comments on the “disappearance” of the mannequins and also that JC Penney displayed the models before the tests and toured them (where?) after.
    JC Penney Corporate Headquarters, 6501 Legacy Drive, Plano TX 75024; 972-431-1000. Penney’s online company profile/history held no clues; I posted a note inquiring about the mannequins tour: where to and the purpose of (no answer so far).
    Many photos (22) of 1955 mannequins ([photographer Loomis Dean–haven’t done a search on him yet) are shown at this website:
    http://www.life.time.com/history/atomic-testing-photos-life-magazine
    LIFE magazine May 16, 1955 published only 3. Glad to do more exploration if helpful.

    underground was

  2. Dad

    WOW, what a large amount of detail this project entails!! You are building momentum now and if there is anything I can do to help out please let me know! I too remember either reading the book or seeing the movie “On the Beach” more likely seeing the movie in1956 if memory serves. Stay focused!!!
    Love, Dad

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