Spent nuclear weapons spilled out of World War 3. The United States, at the start of war, promptly deployed nuclear weapons overseas and immediately devastated foreign nations. The damage occurred not within domestic realms. Economic activity continued, and the industries that facilitated such deployment flourished. The New Amazonian Landscape proposes a familiar and sober future where logistics companies -- i.e. Amazon -- becomes synonymous with the American Nuclear industry. Along with deployment comes waste. This project re-examines the current economy's reliance on capitalist monoliths and its relationship with the national defense industry. 
Final review presentation - Picture by Kerri Nickel 

Elevation and distance visualized relative to each other
The investigation starts with the studio prompt: the Nuclear Highway. From Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Pantex in Amarillo, Texas - the stretch of I-40 and then I-25 hosted trucks after trucks of nuclear weapons every day. The labs involved in this process received our attention first. Upon examining the relationship between Pantex, the final destination, and its surrounding context, we discern key elements to its operation: the location, national defense, and the people within the economy. 

Our first reaction was to move Pantex: how would the US look like, if Pantex, the last place for nuclear weapons to rest, moved across the US? 
We continued to investigate overlap between economic forces (dependence) and product delivery (disposal). Not surprisingly, the model of Amazon comes into our purview and we turn our focus to one of the biggest 'delivery' model corporations in the world. The overlap is there: the language of containers, distance, efficiency, speed ... The research conducted during this period only strengthens the connection between the Nuclear Highway and Two-Day Delivery Satisfaction Guaranteed. 

The Heartbeat of Amazon, by Kyle Truax
In the same period, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant surfaced as an actor along the Nuclear Highway. Pantex to Los Alamos, then to Savannah River National Lab in South Carolina back to the Waste Isolation Power Plant in Texas -- this long journey revealed a transect across the continental US that overlapped with the Nuclear Highway. With Amazon's financial hegemony in mind, we overlay environmental, economic, and Amazonian impact across that chosen transect -- from New Mexico to South Carolina. 

Above: Study transect from west (New Mexico) to east (South Carolina), defined only by topography, highways, and military bases. The nuclear weapon shipment, everyday, experience the dramatic changes in topography.  Below: Each lab is highlighted by revealing its aerial context (such as military operations). 
At the end of the day, Amazon's operations and customer satisfaction was unaltered. The strengthened and expanded operation of Amazon, met through public-private partnership, further fueled to serve the nation, all while providing storage for the existing and increasing nuclear waste. The ever-present fulfillment centers, its numbers now exceeding the 2019 count of 111, also serve as storage for nuclear waste, until it will be transported to a different fulfillment center in the event of a natural cataclysm. 
Identified labs under the overwhelming influence of Amazon 

24/7 video reveals robot workers moving goods and nuclear waste throughout the Distribution Center

Amazon handles nuclear waste post-WWIII

You may also like

Back to Top