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Erika Wanenmacher


The Science Club: The Boy's Room

and Now, Forever, Then, part 1


Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

September 26-December 27, 2008


"The Science Club" is the first showing of a series of installations that investigate The Human Radiation Experiments that occurred in the United States from the 1940's through the 1970's. These experiments were conducted without informed consent on many of society's most vulnerable-the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, and children. These installations are my personal interpretations of experiments that happened across the country. The overall title of "The Science Club" refers to an experiment that happened in a Massachusetts home for retarded children. Boys were fed oatmeal and milk that contained radioactive particles, in order to track the effectiveness of added vitamins. To encourage the boys to participate, the scientist called the experiment "The Science Club". "The Boy's Room" refers to an experiment at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in which doctors used their own children and children in the community in radioactive tracer experiments. My involvement started when I found old negatives of highly magnified tissue samples at a surplus store in Los Alamos . They led me to these stories.


Opening at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, September 26th, 2008


View upon entering

The reading table holds all my reasearch books, and the zine made for the show.

"The Boy's Room"

"The Boy's Room" is a mixed media installation that includes audio and video elements. It is a vintage Los Alamos boy's bedroom, circa 1965, constructed in black and shades of gray.

The audio element comes from the vintage ham radio on the desk. It is an atmospheric mix of a boy's ham radio conversation about living in Los Alamos, inter cut with dialogue taken from the transcripts from The Commission Hearings on The Human Radiation Experiments and vintage radio sounds, including spy numbers sequences and static.

The video element is enclosed in a surplus air monitor cabinet, with a tv tray set up in front of it. The television's video shows Coyote getting blown up, cut with actual atomic explosion footage. The audio is geiger counter clicks. To get the children to sit still in the Los Alamos experiment, doctors showed the children cartoons while they were in the counter.

click here for more details and descriptions of "The Boy's Room"


"Now, Forever, Then"

click here for "Now, Forever, Then"


click here for interview with Erika Wanenmacher by Denise Caruso about "The Science Club"

click here for essay about "The Boy's Room" by Liza Statton



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