Cutting through All the Noise


The Hidden and Unfamiliar

Memory is very important, the memory of each photo taken, flowing at the same speed as the event.
During the work, you have to be sure that you haven't left any holes, that you've captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.

- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cherenkov Radiation

Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility, Hanford Site, US Department of Energy
Southeastern Washington State

Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless-steel nuclear-waste capsules containing cesium and strontium.  Combined, they contain over 120 million curies of radioactivity.  It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the United States.  The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect which describes the electro-magnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent medium.  The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330° Fahrenheit.  The pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than 10 seconds.  Hanford is among the most contaminated sites in the United States.


Cryopreservation Unit

Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Michigan

This cryopreservation unit holds the bodies of Rhea and Elaine Ettinger, the mother and first wife of cryonics pioneer, Robert Ettinger.  Robert, author of The Prospect of Immortality and Man into Superman is still alive.

The Cryonics Institute offers cryostasis (freezing) services for individuals and pets upon death.  Cryostasis is practiced with the hope that lives will ultimately be extended through future developments in science, technology, and medicine.

When, and if, these developments occur, Institute members hope to awake to an extended life in good health, free from disease or the aging process.  Cryostasis must begin immediately upon legal death.  A person or pet is infused with ice-preventive substances and quickly cooled to a temperature where physical decay virtually stops.  The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 for cryostasis if it is planned well in advance of legal death and $35,000 on shorter notice.


Government Marijuana Grow Room

Research Marijuana Crop, National Center for Natural Products Research, Oxford, Mississippi

The National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) is the only facility in the United States which is federally licensed to cultivate cannabis for scientific research.  In addition to cultivating cannabis, NCNPR is responsible for analysing seized marijuana for potency trends, herbicide residuals (paraquat) and fingerprint identification.  NCNPR is licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and also researches and develops chemicals derived from plants, marine organisms, and other natural products.  While 11 states have legalised the medical use of marijuana, a 2005 US Supreme Court decision allows for the arrest of any individual caught using it for this purpose.  Nearly half of the annual arrests for drug violations involve marijuana possession or trafficking.

There is one exception, however:

See also:

bulletFederal Rx: Marijuana (in the section on Drugs) - Afflicted with a rare neurological condition, George McMahon, age 51, is the 5th US citizen to receive legal medical marijuana from the United States Government.  He receives 300 joints a month, courtesy of the little-known Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program, run since 1978 by the Food and Drug Administration.

In An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Taryn Simon documents spaces that are integral to American foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience.  She has photographed rarely-seen sites from domains including: science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security and religion.  Photographed with a large format view camera (except when prohibited), Simon's 70 colour plates form a seductive collection, reflecting and revealing a national identity.

Taryn Somon was born in New York in 1975.  She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow.  Her highly acclaimed work, The Innocents, documents cases of wrongful conviction in the US and investigates photography's role in that process.  She is represented by Gagosian Gallery.


For photos of the earth and moon, stained glass, sunsets on the Wellington Harbour, Lady Fair, Civic Square, the old mill, the Whippany River, historical houses, Lake Parsippany and more clicking the "Up" button below takes you to the Index page of Contents for this Photographs section.

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