Hanford Reach: In The Atomic Field
Hanford Reach: In The Atomic Field is an installation that combines photography, video projection, and sound collected over several years to map Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the Manhattan Project site in Eastern Washington State where plutonium was created for four decades. Hanford produced plutonium for the Trinity Test, for the Fat Man bomb that was dropped upon the city of Nagasaki in 1945, and for the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the decades of the Cold War.
The installation is named for part of the nuclear zone that was restricted from public access for four decades, then reopened as a nature reserve.
Hanford today encompasses a decommissioned nuclear reactor re-imagined as a museum, multiple reactors in various stages of deconstruction, entombment, and preservation, abandoned pioneer townships and orchards, and multiple Native American sacred sites.
The reservation is one of the largest Superfund sites in the nation. Subterranean toxic chemical plumes are slowly unfurling toward the Columbia River. Efforts to slow and contain this trajectory are underway, but there are to date no viable cleanup strategies.
Excerpts from an archive of original first-person narratives are interwoven in a surround-sound collage. The sound collage is framed by mural-scale photographs taken in and around Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and a floor-projected video. Source interviews include Hanford scientists and engineers, Native American elders, displaced farmers, farm-worker advocates, and others variously impacted.
A look at lives and landscapes bearing secrets of the atomic/nuclear era, Hanford Reach is a reflection upon the complexity of individual and collective memory.
Thanks to Puffin Foundation and Puffin Foundation West for their generous support in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021