Technology Paranoia and a History of Fear: Our Atomic Culture

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The Dark Side by: Martin Miller

In its broadest sense, culture is the sum total of our beliefs, our fears, our behavior patterns, our institutions, our common values, as well as our art, music, and literature.  But the arts often neglect or omit reference to the Cold War.  In fact, most of us who lived through those times have scant visual knowledge of what may be fairly called the dark side of our culture.  We were immersed in the myopic soup of getting an education, finding a job, marrying, and having children.  Meanwhile, far from our thoughts, bright and earnest young men were spending 24-hour duties behind 7-ft thick steel doors.  There they drilled constantly the procedures to launch missiles with a 30-minute trip to the Soviet Union.  The nuclear warhead on the Titan II missile shown here packed nearly three times the explosive power of all the bombs dropped by the Allies in WWII.  And there were 54 of these missiles on alert for 25 years.

Most of us remember periods in our lives most vividly in terms of the popular music of the time.   This project depicts some of the objects from the dark side of our culture during the Cold War and links them with popular music of the era.  As surreal as the images are by themselves, their juxtaposition with the music magnifies the dreamlike quality of what was really at stake and how little the existence of these doomsday machines seemed to touch our lives.  By the way, bright and earnest young men (and now women) still pull 24-hour duty in launch-control bunkers every day.  (Make sure your speakers are on and don’t forget to come back from YouTube) :-)

LINK 1953: “Rock Around the Clock” Bill Haley and the Comets

Armored Nuclear Weapon Transport Rail Car and Locomotive, “The White Train” 1951

LINK 1955: “Tutti Frutti” Little Richard

Gun Port, Armored Nuclear Weapon Transport Rail Car of “The White Train” 1951

LINK 1957: “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” Jerry Lee Lewis

Experimental Nuclear Propulsion Reactor HTRE-2 for Strategic Bombers 1957

LINK 1957: “Bye Bye Love” The Everly Brothers

Mk-28 Thermonuclear Bomb Cluster, 1958

LINK 1957: “You Send Me” Sam Cooke

Titan II ICBM in Silo 1963

LINK 1964: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” The Beatles

Titan II ICBM in Launch Duct 1963

LINK 1964: “Oh Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison

Control Console, Titan II ICBM 1963

LINK 1965: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”  James Brown

Titan II ICBM Cableway from Control Room to Missile Duct 1963

LINK 1965: “Help!” The Beatles

Minuteman II ICBM at Launch Facility Delta-09 1965

LINK 1965: “In the Midnight Hour” Wilson Pickett

Blast-Hardened UHF Antenna, Minuteman II ICBM Launch Control Facility  Delta-01 1965

LINK  1965: “Sounds of Silence” Simon and Garfunkel

Security Control Center, Minuteman II ICBM Launch Control Facility  Delta-01 1965

LINK 1965: “Shotgun” Junior Walker and the All Stars

Blast Door Art, Minuteman II ICBM Launch Control Center  Delta-01 1965

LINK  1965: “My Girl” The Temptations

Deputy Commander’s Console, Minuteman II ICBM Launch Control Center Delta-01 1965

LINK 1966: “Mustang Sally” Wilson Pickett

Missile Site Radar, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND  1975

LINK  1970: “One Toke Over the Line” Brewer and Shipley

Missile Site Radar with Generator Cooling Towers, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND  1975

LINK 1971: “Imagine”  John Lennon

Sprint Missile Silos and Missile Site Radar, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND  1975

LINK 1971: “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)”  The New Seekers

Sprint Nuclear-Tipped Interceptor Missile 1975

LINK 1972: “Superstition”  Stevie Wonder

Spartan Missile Silos and Universal Missile Bunker, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND  1975

LINK 1972: “American Pie” Don McLean

Spartan Nuclear-Tipped Interceptor Missile 1975

LINK 1973: “Muscle of Love” Alice Cooper

Spartan Missile Silos and Missile Site Radar, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND  1975

LINK 1977: “Margaritaville” Jimmy Buffett

Warhead Handling Bunker, Safeguard ABM System, Nekoma, ND 1975

LINK 1978: “Old Time Rock and Roll”  Bob Seger

Perimeter Acquisition Radar, Safeguard ABM System, Concrete, ND 1975

LINK 1981: “A Country Boy Can Survive” Hank Williams, Jr.

B83 1-Megaton Thermonuclear Gravity Bomb 1983

LINK  1988:  “Man in the Mirror”  Michael Jackson

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One Response to Technology Paranoia and a History of Fear: Our Atomic Culture

  1. Mark Walker September 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    For those of you who are scared of the #newfacebook, you will probably poop yourself over this- http://t.co/0pflxS1h You have been warned.

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