On March 17, 1953, fifty mannequins, outfitted by a downtown Las Vegas branch of J.C. Penney, withstood the impact of a nuclear bomb, named Annie. Images of these early test dummies made the force of nuclear explosions visible. ‘The Evolution of Silence’ attempts to address the scale of damage brought about by forty-one years of post-World War II nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site (from 1951–1992). The Nevada Test Site (now called the Nevada National Security Site) is located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, NV. This Web-based archive presents a non-linear map and interpretation of the area’s destruction, and an opportunity to explore this restricted desert landscape.
I have chosen to engage the eight hundred and twenty-eight (828) individual nuclear detonations that occurred in Yucca Flat, in ways that other documentation of the Nevada Test Site does not. I focus on the ‘before and after’ of transformation and on the traces and fragments of what occurred. The project reveals and memorializes the L.A. Darling Co. Mannequins and their role in the Civil Defense program in the 1950s. Their story offers compelling historical and cultural perspective on the atomic bomb and points to the human toll of conflict. Allowing one to bypass government boundaries and control of the area, my project makes it possible for any individual to experience a cold war’s aftermath and silence.
Art, Design and Research: RACHELE RILEY
Technical Consultant/Developer: DANNIEL GAIDULA
All content, unless otherwise noted, is copyright © Rachele Riley, 2008–2014. All Rights Reserved.
This project has been made possible in part with grants from the DigitalGlobe Foundation, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and with individual contributions made directly to the project via Hatchfund.
Special thanks to my Noggin-, Haymaker- and Sugar-level Hatchfund supporters: Richard Felton, Lisa M. C. Joven, Jerome Cloud, Hans-Ulrich Allemann, Erin Riley, Nonie Kimpitak, Paul Riley, Patrycja Doniewski, Mildred Riley, Marjorie and Kent Halstead, Maria McVarish, JoAnne R. Baron, Thomas Balsley, Bonnie Willett-Goad, Stacie Goffin, Mark Jamra, Elizabeth Craig, Ron Johnson, Sean Riley, Je Seok Koo, John Connolly, Laurence Bach, Maia Wright, Christine Zelinsky, Tina Thuermer, Gabrielle Esperdy, Afua Brown, Jan C. Almquist, Sara Abraham, Miriam Simun, Margaret Urban, Tulin Acikalin, Anna Bühler, Jason Dilworth, Janet Williams, Joshua Singer, Andrea Weissenbuehler, Virginia Faircloth, Lindsey Culpepper, Eleanor J. Edgett, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Teresa Ilnicki, C.J. Hawn, Debby and John Hanrahan, Warren Lehrer, Semi Ryu, Marcie Paper, Sandra Maxa, Kaitlin Gehshan, Jennifer Sudul-Edwards, Derek Coté, and Alex Wagaman.
Archival photos, maps, documents and artifacts are courtesy of the DigitalGlobe Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, United States Geological Survey, National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, Las Vegas News Bureau, Cahlan Research Library (Nevada State Museum), Special Collections Library at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nuclear Testing Archive, National Atomic Testing Museum, National Archives, and Library of Congress.