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This Page Intentionally Left Blank

 

As I reviewed thousands of pages of declassified documents while gathering research for the "How To Display an Atomic Bomb" series, I realized that these heavily-redacted papers which decayed every time they were reproduced contained a different story I needed to tell. However, I couldn’t do so unless I changed my way of working as a photographer. So I did.

The stories these pages tell, often in subtle ways, suggest the hubris, bravery, dedication, nationalism, ingenuity, fear – even paranoia – and sheer determination of our culture and species. Some of them are alarming, like a brief 20 pages and 3 charts dedicated to answering whether the detonation of an atomic bomb might unintentionally burn all the air on our planet. Most are much more mundane, like page after page with nothing but the phrase “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” on it. A phrase that falsifies itself while conveying its peculiar brand of bureaucratic logic.

These documents produced by dozens of agencies, across vast geographic distances, by thousands of people, across 100 years all have a particular look. In making these documents secret, and then not, they’d accidentally created a beautiful visual language. If one cropped in just the right places, these documents with their images, perforations, stamps, and handwriting decayed from countless reproduction could become art objects. Some had the simple existential urgency of On Kawara’s painting, others the perfect minimalism of a Franz Kline, but they all can also be interpreted as picture of our society and government. However, it was while watching Steve McQueen's "End Credits" that I first imagined these pages as oversized pieces of art.

I like the humanity they contain. In the midst of this massive machine, we have inarguable evidence that this machine is comprised entirely of humans like us, each with their own particular hand-writing, name and job. Each incapable of drawing a perfectly straight line, and each laboring to keep themselves, their coworkers, families, and country alive. 


archival pigment print on canvas or aluminum
sizes varying, edition of 3

 
 

A Search for Confined Fireballs in the Atmosphere #1, 2018

 
 Nuclear Weapons Characteristic Handbook 1, 2018

Nuclear Weapons Characteristic Handbook 1, 2018

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #1, 2018

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #1, 2018

 
 Nuclear Weapons Characteristic Handbook #2, 2018

Nuclear Weapons Characteristic Handbook #2, 2018

 
 Minutes of 29th Meeting of Theoretical Magaton Group #1, 2018

Minutes of 29th Meeting of Theoretical Magaton Group #1, 2018

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #3, 2018

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #3, 2018

 
 A Search for Confined Fireballs in the Atmosphere #2, 2018

A Search for Confined Fireballs in the Atmosphere #2, 2018

 
 unknown #2, 2018

unknown #2, 2018

 
 Ignition of the Atmosphere with Nuclear Bombs #2, 2018

Ignition of the Atmosphere with Nuclear Bombs #2, 2018

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #4, 2018

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #4, 2018

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #5

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #5

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #6

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #6

 
 A Search for Confined Fireballs in the Atmosphere #3

A Search for Confined Fireballs in the Atmosphere #3

 
 Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #2

Failure of Masts, Yardarms, Booms and Riggings #2

 
 Minutes of 29th Meeting of Theoretical Magaton Group #1, 2018

Minutes of 29th Meeting of Theoretical Magaton Group #1, 2018

 
 This Page Intentionally Left Blank #2, 2018

This Page Intentionally Left Blank #2, 2018