Version 1.

evol_112113_4
The Evolution of Silence version 1—www.evolution-of-silence.net

The Hatchfund fundraiser ended in October, and thanks to all my wonderful supporters, I raised $3,827 towards my project!

Part of the funding has already covered the costs of working with web developer, Danniel Gaidula. We have completely revamped and refined the web-based archive. This is a significant programming achievement! ‘The Evolution of Silence’ requires that over 900 individual images be processed at once (to form the aerial tiling of the landscape), and as other image, video, and audio layers are revealed it can become very intense for any system. We developed a unique approach to the design and coding, and I am happy to say that is now live and working!

evol_112113_3
evol_112113_6
evol_112113_7

I invite you to explore:

www.evolution-of-silence.net

*Refresh your browser cache if you have visited before.
*Works in Chrome (fastest), Safari, Firefox and IE 10. Requires a modern browser.

Presenting at ‘Praxis and Poetics’ at the BALTIC in Gateshead, UK.

Presentation at 'Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design,' September 4, 2013
Rachele Riley presenting ‘The Evolution of Silence’ at ‘Praxis and Poetics’ at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK on September 4, 2013. Photo by Dr Joyce Yee.

I traveled to England on September 2 to participate in the conference ‘Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design.’ The conference was held at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK, just over the Millennium Bridge and across the river from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a beautiful university city with a mix of old and new architecture, which I was able to explore one afternoon on foot. I am so happy that I was able to attend this event and thrilled to present and exhibit ‘The Evolution of Silence’ in its newly re-coded format. It was a celebratory week for me and wonderful to share the archive beyond the U.S.

Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC.
Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC.

Here is a post from Vicky Teinaki who blogged about the conference:

“Rachele Riley went beyond whether the truth is out there to the history we forget in ‘The Evolution of Silence.’ Her work is investigating the decades of nuclear testing that went on in the Nevada desert, and through it the changing opinions of nuclear testing…”

Read the full post here.

Link to ‘The Evolution of Silence.’

Installation detail of 'The Evolution of Silence' at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. ©Rachele Riley, 2013
Detail of ‘The Evolution of Silence’ at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. ©Rachele Riley, 2013

Thank you to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and to my family for travel support, to Danniel Gaidula for revamping the site, and to everyone who generously contributed to my project via USA Projects. The archive looked amazing on the high resolution monitor and received incredible response. There are several conversation threads that linger in my mind; I am now finding time to probe them. Several people expressed an interest in contributing to the archive through its (soon-to-be-developed) participatory layer. It was inspiring to meet designers (mainly from Asia, Europe, and Australia) who are engaged in diverse research and are investigating new modes of delivery. It was an awe-tastic week.

Update on Fundraiser at USA Projects.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my USA Projects fundraiser over the last two days! The USA Projects Open Match Fund matched $250 of your contributions. Please continue to share the link. Thank you!

http://www.usaprojects.org/project/the_evolution_of_silence

All donations are tax-deductible and the fundraising model is ‘all or nothing.’ If you have not yet made a donation, please know that your contributions will make a difference and will mean a lot to me. I have a few art perks to offer for donations at $50 or $100 (at the Haymaker or Noggin levels—named after denotations, of course!).

Please consider making a contribution today and share the link with others!

IMG_9797a
Pahranagat Valley, NV, first research trip in 2008.

In related news: the Web-based archive will launch in 10 days! I will be presenting it in conjunction with ‘Praxis and Poetics’ at the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, September 3–5. This week my focus is to develop the section of the website that presents and interprets the LA Darling Co Mannequins. As you saw in my USA Projects video, I have a lot of research material to incorporate!

Scans of mannequins and tests. Images courtesy of the National Archives.
opcue2 1_small
opcue2 2_small

Fundraising at USA Projects.

I just posted ‘The Evolution of Silence’ to USA Projects!

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 2.36.12 PM

8
I have been working on the writing for about two weeks, and just finished the video yesterday. I have one month to fund the project and I need your help. Please consider contributing, and do share the link with others! Thank you!

http://www.usaprojects.org/project/the_evolution_of_silence

About USA Projects: a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for artists and designers to raise money for their independent work. Supported by separate donations, they charge no fee to artists to use their website tool.

BETA Version 1.1.

The web-based archive of ‘The Evolution of Silence’ will officially launch on September 1, 2013. I have made progress this week and am now sharing the BETA site more widely for feedback. Over the next two months, I will be incorporating more of my research material, writing, and art (solar prints, animations, and coaxial cable drawings, etc.), testing programming and design ideas on my local file, and updating the BETA versions regularly for your feedback.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-23-at-10.32.50-AM
process_052013_010
process_052013_015

Be sure to empty your browser cache each time to view the changes. Currently the site works well in Safari and Firefox.

Instructions for emptying your cache in
Safari:
File > Develop > Empty Caches

Firefox:
Tools > Clear Recent History > Cache

Plans for Part One.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 7.33.02 AM
I finished fixing the coordinates last week, and now the images tile correctly to form a view of every single detonation in Yucca Flat. It is intentional that it is still fragmented, in order to make visually clear that in those areas of the valley no nuclear detonation occurred. These gaps in information are views through the accumulated image, and lead to more and more complex layering of image, text, video. My goals with these layers are to explore the valley over time, convey dynamics and scale, present the ruins of testing, and share documentation of the impact on people’s lives and the environment. At the moment, photographs from the Desert Wildlife Range and the surrounding areas of the Nevada Test Site are visible.
Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 7.31.32 AM
My plans for Part One (the web-based part):
1. Create a scale that shows proportion and relates the images of detonations to geography.

2. Create more complex and transforming soundscapes.

3. Connect sounds to each detonation that convey their yield or detonation type, or some other attribute.

4. Explore CSS animations to convey yield of detonation.

5. Create more drawings and expressive scans to incorporate as hover captions to detonation images.

6. Create captions that load dynamically for the lightbox images.

7. Animate vector drawings to convey impact and yield of detonation.

8. Create a toggle option to view the project organized by time continuum or by location (currently it is a combination: the atmospheric tests are organized by time and the underground tests by location).

9. Create a text list of every detonation as a way to emphasize the naming of tests and to help viewers locate detonations in the tiling.

10. Create search function so that a viewer’s entry point could be a date, or a name, or an Area of the valley. Currently one travels from most northern part of the valley and heads South.

11. Create a system for showing how the viewer is navigating North, South, East, West.

12. Incorporate other archival research:

USGS photographs of detonation sites (before and after)
images of atmospheric tests from the National Archives
images of mannequins being dressed and set in houses
images of mannequins from the JC Penney advertisement (before and after)
images newspaper articles on the mannequins and other tests
images of houses, cars, furniture, food items, roof tiles, paint samples, animals tested
transcript (or recordings): for example of Baneberry trial
images of protests
images of ephemera and printed material
transcripts of oral histories
notes from two Nevada Test Site tours

13. Create a participatory interface in which viewers can submit their own interpretations or repsonses to form a layer on the site.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 7.32.19 AM

Part Two, as you may remember from earlier introductory posts, is to extend the website into an exhibition. I am hoping to have more time soon to design a proposal and to research ways to translate interactivity for the web into an interactive physical environment.

Update on the ‘Annie’ test mannequins.

In Las Vegas I found photos of the mannequins being dressed and on display at the J.C. Penney store before the March 17, 1953 detonation.

Las Vegas Review Journal, March 6, 1953.
IMG_1748a

Las Vegas Sun, March 7, 1953.
IMG_1794a

Los Angeles Examiner, March 10, 1953
IMG_0539a

Las Vegas Review Journal, March 1953
0008

Las Vegas Review Journal, March 7, 1953
IMG_0489a

Las Vegas Review Journal, March 8, 1953
IMG_0513a

I found photos of the mannequins sitting in a group on chairs, being photographed outside in a Las Vegas neighborhood. I believe the photo was taken at Third and Carson Streets. James (Eure) could decipher ‘Third Street’ on the street sign in the first photo. Crystal (Van Dee) was able to confirm the street sign names as ‘Third and Carson’ with the help of a jeweler’s loupe.

IMG_1730a
IMG_1733a

Searching further through the collections at the Nevada State Museum, I found a news release announcing that the County court house would be used in preparation for the March 17 test (at that time the court house stood at Third and Carson).
IMG_0452a
IMG_1736

Las Vegas Sun, March 9, 1953
IMG_1785a

The group photo outside is similar to one I found at the National Archives:
IMG_0743a

I found newspaper accounts that the mannequins had been removed from Yucca Flat and brought back to Las Vegas after the March 17, 1953 detonation. In this photo they are gathered again after the test, now damaged. They seem to be at the same site as in the earlier photo shoot (Third and Carson), but without a view of the houses across the street I can’t be certain.
IMG_1738a

It’s possible that this site (Third and Carson) is the setting of the J.C. Penney advertisement photo shoot. The double-page advertisement of ‘before’ and ‘after’ states of the mannequins was published in the Las Vegas Review Journal on April 3, 1953.
0005+6

I found another J.C. Penney advertisement from early March 1953 featuring the mannequins in their ‘before’ state only in the Las Vegas Review Journal. These are the same ‘before’ shots used later in the April 3 comparison.
0003a

I did not find any pictures or accounts of the mannequins on public display at the J.C. Penney store after the detonation of March 17, 1953. For now, the question of the mannequins’ post-detonation display in Las Vegas (at J.C. Penney or elsewhere) remains unanswered.

However, I did find several newspaper accounts of the mannequins on public display in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles in early April 1953. The mannequins were on view for three days and staged in similar ways to how they were found after the detonation at Yucca Flat. The newspapers report: ‘Mannequins play second fiddle to F-84’ (The F-84 Thunderjet was in an adjacent display). The mannequins were being studied for radiation in Los Angeles. I wonder whether the Civil Defense officials cancelled their plans for a nationwide tour of the mannequins after the exhibition in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Examiner, April 1, 1953 Sec 1–3.
IMG_1756a

Albuquerque Tribune, April 1, 1953
IMG_2600

Las Vegas Review Journal, April 1, 1953
IMG_2596

Los Angeles Mirror, April 1, 1953
IMG_2592

Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1953.
IMG_2584+5

Las Vegas Review Journal, April 1, 1953.
IMG_2606

The subject of my archival research, appreciating Las Vegas.

There are three main threads to my archival research. I am searching for:
(1) any images or textual accounts of the L.A. Darling Co. Mannequins, information on their public display at the downtown J.C. Penney store in Las Vegas and the tour they allegedly made of other cities, confirmation that they were displayed both before and after the March 17, 1953 ‘Annie’ Test, and any leads to their current whereabouts;

(2) newspaper accounts of nuclear testing at Yucca Flat of the Nevada Test Site, any form of visual or textual documentation that provides a supplementary view to that of the Department of Energy, as well as images and films of atmospheric and underground testing activity, subsidence craters, cables, towers, vehicles, structures, and other ruins of testing experiments; and

(3) an analysis of the effects of nuclear testing on people, environment, politics and culture, documentation and records on (for example) the Baneberry venting case, protests at the NTS, and designed exhibits and publications.

Over the course of this project, I have searched the microfilm, manuscript, photo, film, map, book, and military collections of the Library of Congress, the Mercury Core Library and Data Center, the USGS Central Region Library, and the National Archives. This past December in Las Vegas, I spent several days in the archives and libraries of the Cahlan Research Library of the Nevada State Museum, the University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections, and the Nuclear Testing Archive. As a result of these hours spent, combing through personal collections, publications, ephemera, newspaper clippings, microfilm, photos, and film reels, I have hundreds of images and notes to add to my findings. This material will give further dimension to the project. In the next several weeks I will be working to interpret these discoveries and incorporate them into the archive and into my exhibition proposal.

I want to thank the people I met in Las Vegas who helped me with my research:
Crystal R. Van Dee, Curator of Manuscripts at the Cahlan Research Library
Karen Green, Curator at the National Atomic Testing Museum
Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator, Historian at the Las Vegas News Bureau Archive
Dan Garrison, Producer at Joshua Tree Productions Inc.
Jennifer Cornthwaite, Director of the Emergency Arts Center
Su Kim Chung, Manuscripts Librarian at UNLV Special Collections
Kelli Luchs, Photograph Archivist at UNLV Special Collections
Delores Brownlee, Library Technician at UNLV Special Collections
Thomas Sommer, University and Technical Services Archivist at UNLV Special Collections and
Dennis McBride, Director of the Nevada State Museum.

Thanks to James Eure for his assistance.

A page out of a scrapbook of clippings regarding Civil Defense, Patricia Lee Collection, Cahlan Research Library.
IMG_0493

Artifacts of Atomic Testing.

IMG_0637
On Tuesday, December 11, I met with Jennifer Cornthwaite, Director of Emergency Arts, at Fremont and sixth to discuss exhibiting in LV, and to get insight into the arts center. I met with Karen Green afterwards at the National Atomic Testing Museum. She is Curator and Collections Director at the Museum. The National Atomic Testing Museum has a collection of artifacts from the atomic testing period, mostly from the Nevada Test Site, but growing in scope to include objects and artifacts from all of the U.S.’s testing locations. I was able to visit the exhibition quickly, and then we went upstairs to the collections room. Karen had received an anonymous donation of two 1950s era mannequins that were used in testing at the NTS, a woman and a boy. The words ‘Property of the Atomic Energy Commission Yucca Flat Range Ground Zero’ are stenciled in black on their backs. Their hair wigs are lost, but their eyes are intact. They have hand-painted glass eyes.

IMG_0634

IMG_0662

IMG_0666

IMG_0671

I have been spending time in the University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections library. I looked through several photographs of testing activities (from the Department of Energy) and manuscript collections from journalists and historians. I also consulted the thesis dissertation of Angela Christine Moor entitled, ‘Selling Civil Defense: The Politics and Commerce of Preparedness, 1950-1963.’ I met her at the Cahlan Research Library in 2008 as she was finishing her MA in History at UNLV.

We will be at the UNLV library one more time before we leave, on Tuesday, December 18.

Las Vegas Review Journal (UNLV Special Collections: Dorothy Dorothy 95-20)
IMG_1100

NTS News, Vol. IX, No. 3. February, 4, 1966 (UNLV Special Collections: Edward Halligan T84)
IMG_1128

Images courtesy of the UNLV Special Collections (Department of Energy 0282 Collection):
IMG6

Images courtesy of the UNLV Special Collections (Department of Energy 0282 Collection):
IMG7

In the meadows.

IMG_0578
I am in Las Vegas, Nevada for ten days (I arrived Sunday, December 9, 2012). On the first morning, Monday, December 10, I met with curator and historian, Brian Paco Alvarez, and filmmaker and producer, Dan Garrison, at The Beat café in the Emergency Arts Center in downtown Las Vegas (Fremont and 6th). It is in the former J.C. Penney building, the store which donated clothing for Federal Civil Defense Administration tests at the Nevada Test Site in the early 1950s, and the site where the L.A. Darling mannequins, who experienced the force of nuclear blasts, were put on display for public viewing.

Emergency Arts, the former J.C. Penney building:
IMG_0632
IMG_0568
We discussed ‘The Evolution of Silence’ and the possibility for its premiere as an exhibition here in LV. Paco is working to establish historic designation for the former J.C. Penney building in downtown Las Vegas because of its role in the history of the Nevada Test Site.

We spent the afternoon at the Nevada State Museum Cahlan Research Library, looking at photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, maps, and publications from various collections. We are returning tomorrow to finish looking at the clippings in the Patricia Lee collection and to search the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review Journal newspapers from 1953 on microfilm for pictures and articles about the mannequins on display.

Mannequins on display, before the ‘Annie’ nuclear test of March 17, 1953 (from the Las Vegas Review Journal, March 6, 1953):
IMG_0473

Mannequins being organized, after the ‘Annie’ test:
IMG_0548a