More nuclear bombs have been detonated in America than in any other country in the world. Between 1951 and 1992, the Nevada National Security Test Site was the primary location for these activities, withstanding more than a thousand nuclear tests that left swaths of the American Southwest resembling the moon. In The Nevada Test Site, renowned American photographer Emmet Gowin (b. 1941) presents staggering aerial photographs of this powerfully evocative place.
Gowin remains the only photographer granted official and sustained access to the Nevada Test Site. For this book, he has revisited his original negatives, made in 1996 and 1997, and fully three-quarters of the images featured here have never been published before. These images show blast areas where sand has been transformed to glass, valleys pockmarked with hundreds of craters, trenches that protected soldiers from blasts, areas used to bury radioactive waste, and debris left behind following tests conducted as deep as five thousand feet below the Earth’s surface. Together, these stunning, unsettling views unveil environmental travesties on a grand scale. An essay by Gowin delves into the history of his work at the site, including his decade-long efforts to secure entry, the photographic equipment and techniques employed, and what the images mean to him today.
With a foreword by photographer and writer Robert Adams, The Nevada Test Site stands as a testament to the harms we inflict on our surroundings, the importance of bearing witness, and the possibilities for aesthetic redemption and a more hopeful future.