Shedding Light(paint) on the Cold War
Perhaps the most intimidating aspect of the Cold War is how insidious it was. While daily life was largely unchanged throughout the 1940s to the 1990s, the lingering threat of nuclear conflict lured like hissing static (at times, it was significantly more than that). As such, the Cold War gave birth to countless armaments in a show of "mine is bigger" on a global scale, many of which have been simply left to be reclaimed by nature. Case in point: the Nike Missile batteries which are peppered throughout New Jersey, including one only a few towns over from me.
Technically speaking, the images here are the Radar section of the Nike Missile array in East Hanover/Livingston. Located atop Riker Hill, this area was used to obtain good radar coverage in the event of invading aircraft. Upon complete decommission of the Nike program in 1974, the buildings and barracks were converted into art studios, and all specialty equipment was removed. What remains are husks and foundations of radar towers, many of which are hidden a few meters into the woods.
For this project, I drove up to the top of Riker Hill Art Park with a friend on a stereotypically chilly autumn night in New Jersey. We packed the awesome Westcott Icelight as well as a neat Smith & Wesson multicolor LED flashlight, and used them to paint light on the otherwise darkened area.
Once the USSR obtained an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) system, the need for the Nike Ajax and Hercules missiles fell by the wayside. Their sole purpose was to disable enemy aircraft, and once the enemy had no need for aircraft to deliver deadly nuclear blasts, the Nike system seemed like a waste. Looking back, one could make a moral argument that the whole Cold War was a waste, along with the proxy wars it spawned.
Argument, counter-argument, armament, disarmament, construction and abandonment. The cycle will likely continue long after we're all gone. More permanent, however, are the stripped shells of places like the Nike Missile bases, lurking overgrown in the trees and fields, reminding us that to be human is to be competitive.