1942-1946: The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb, Robert Oppenheimer appointed Director.
July 16, 1945: Trinity, The first detonation of a Nuclear Weapon
Aug 6, 1945: Hiroshima, The first detonation of a Nuclear Weapon in war
Aug 9, 1945: Nagasaki, The second, and last detonation of a Nuclear Weapon in war
August 1, 1946: President Harry S. Truman signed the McMahon/Atomic Energy Act establishing a Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy [JCAE] for government oversight of every aspect of the national atomic energy program except appropriation; a new Atomic Energy Commission [AEC] for civilian management of atomic industry; a General Advisory Committee [GAC] for scientific input to the AEC; and a Military Liaison Committee [MLC] to handle “Defense concerns.” The McMahon / Atomic Energy Act transferred the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands, effective from January 1, 1947. Robert Oppenheimer appointed Chairman of the General Advisory Committee (GAC).
November 23, 1947: A joint meeting of AEC; GAC; MLC Chaired By Robert Oppenheimer. The Joint Meetings of the AEC; GAC; MLC were highly classified and held under the strictest rules of secrecy. Paper and pencil were provided for doodling, but no notes were taken and nothing was allowed to leave the meeting room. Bryan F. LaPlante was assigned in 1946 as Assistant to the Director of Security for the AEC, at the same time as he was Chief of AEC’s Washington Area Intelligence and Security Office. LaPlante personalized his security job by collecting doodles. He was required to make a ‘clean sweep’ of meeting rooms after the participants had left, and saved all the pieces of paper that bore doodles – annotating them with the date and the name of the artist.
Oppenheimer's Table: A Workshop in the Shadow of Oppenheimer, situated between the uncertainty principle and intelligence
Arts Letters & Numbers March 1-8, 2015
In the immediate aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the United States Government set in place a legal and committee framework that formed the foundation of the cold war. In 1947, the early joint meetings of this highly secretive committee anchored an evolution of knowledge and power that became the cold war and continues to influence every aspect of our lives today.
Arts Letters & Numbers is pleased to announce a one-week intensive workshop entitled Oppenheimer’s Table, led by Director David Gersten and Visiting Artist Robert Dalton Harris and co-taught with Arts Letters & Numbers Fellows.
The immersive workshop seeks to ask questions of this moment in history by directly engaging and inhabiting the space of original doodles collected from the Joint meetings of the AEC, GAC, MLC chaired by Robert Oppenheimer. We will dig into these artifacts as source root and excavate the multi dimensional / durational questions passing through them. The hope is that through a shared framework of conversations, questions and actions we will create new linkages, new questions and new works.