2013 Doomsday Clock Symposium – How close to midnight are we?

How close to midnight are we? With the Clock’s minute hand currently standing at 5 minutes to, this week’s symposium will be greeted with bated breath, as it will reveal whether the minute hand will move. The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, which decides the time on the Clock, will make its announcement in January.

 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, holds an annual Doomsday Clock Symposium, where each year the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates, assess world events and trends, and signal their assessment of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences, by moving, or not moving the minute hand of the Clock.

 The Bulletin’s 5th Annual Doomsday Clock Symposium, taking place on November 14, 2013, in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum and Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., and its exhibition, “Damage Control:  Art and Destruction Since 1950,” which looks at representations of catastrophe and how images are used to communicate the dangers of nuclear weapons and of climate disruption.  The symposium will explore the aesthetics and politics of representation and how viewers respond to portrayals of utter disaster from nuclear destruction and climate change.  The symposium also will elaborate on the dangers behind the images and, by bringing together the idea of destruction in both art and science, inform the public about catastrophic threats from nuclear technologies and from the damaging forces of climate change. Kerry Brougher, Interim Director and Chief Curator at the Hirshhorn, will deliver the keynote address at the Bulletin’s symposium.

More details on the symposium can be found here.

In the latest special issue of the Bulletin, the essays are a glimpse into the topics and issues that the Bulletin’s boards consider when evaluating the minute hand. Kicking off its November/December special issue—“Art, Destruction, and the Doomsday Clock”—the Bulletin features a piece written by Brougher, who examines the rise of the twentieth-century “nuclear culture”, and artists’ reactions to the promise of new technology. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Richard Rhodes—in his essay “Guernica: Horror and Inspiration”—explores how the destruction of a Spanish town during the Civil war inspired Picasso’s most famous painting. Photojournalist Gary Braasch, follows the theme of images and influence as he examines the framing of images of climate change and how a new approach could encourage more people to take preventative action. In her essay, photographer Carole Gallagher looks at whether nuclear events are beyond the reach of art as she reflects on her own work documenting nuclear catastrophe. Reflecting on two US-engineered Cold War programs and plans, Joseph Masco finishes the collection by looking at how terror, over past decades, has become a normal element in everyday US life.

Select articles from the issue will be free to access for a limited time: http://bos.sagepub.com/

As part of the symposium, the Bulletin and the Hirshhorn are also co-hosting a “Meet the Artist” event at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 14, in the museum’s Ring Auditorium, featuring Yoshimoto Nara, a Japanese artist whose work is included in the Hirshhorn exhibit.

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