Plans for Part One.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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.

Identifying desert flora at the Springs Preserve.

Bladder Sage (Salazaria mexicana)
We made several visits to the Springs Preserve and Nevada State Museum, which are situated in the same area, on beautiful and fittingly-named Valley View Boulevard. Food at the Springs Café is prepared by the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas and we regularly ate there before conducting research at the Cahlan Research Library (within the Nevada State Museum). I would have loved to have had more time for hiking in the Springs Preserve. The short walk we made provided a useful introduction to some plants and has helped me identify some desert flora. I plan to incorporate more of this kind of information into my project, as well as research that I have found on the effects of nuclear testing on the environment.

Mojave Aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia var. tortifolia)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
Turpentine Brush (Ericameria laricifolia)
Bladder Sage (Salazaria mexicana)
Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
Grizzly Pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha var. erinacea)
Nevada Jointfir (Ephedra nevadensis)
Strawberry Hedgehog (Echinocereus engelmannii)
Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata)
Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Nearby, at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

Wednesday, December 12 we drove out to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge on a windy sunny day. We returned dusty, a little sunburned, inspired. The Refuge is about 20 minutes north of Las Vegas, off Highway 95. It is a protected area of 2,300 square miles (from the brochure): ‘The wide range of elevation and rainfall has created amazingly diverse habitat suited to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The Desert Wildlife Refuge is a land of great diversity. Here the Mojave Desert ecosystem merges with the Great Basin ecosystem on this vast dry landscape.’ It is a similar environment to the Nevada Test Site, which lies just beyond, a few ranges away looking north.

The beautiful Corn Creek:
Recorded sound that day. Walked, took photos, shot video.
It was very windy but we did make a couple of solar prints of plants (that is sun print paper underneath the brush in the picture below), but I had hoped to do much more. I am applying to the Goldwell Open Air Artist Residency for the summer. There, I will be creating a series of prints based on the mannequins, the mojave desert ecology, and the architecture of the testing program.