"The Boy's Room" installation
at The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
details and descriptions
The walls of "The Boy's Room" are stenciled with cowboys on bucking broncos with atomic bomb clouds rising up behind them. This record player plays my fabricated version of a "Red Raven Record" . These were records that had a short animation that ran around the label. When you put the mirrored carousel in the center, and zoned in on the mirror, you saw the short animation loop that corresponded to the nursery rhyme song. I think, besides twirling around until you fell down, this was an original altered state. Mine is a "Black Raven" record, and the animation is of an atomic explosion, with a hand that you can see the bones in.
The desk has the boy's radio gear- a vintage Hallicrafter's ham radio, microphone and headphone, along with a code box, geiger counter, and set of dosimeters (personal radiation counters). Coming from the radio is an audio mix of the boy talking about living in Los Alamos, cut with dramatized testimony taken from the transcripts of the governments hearings on The Human Radiation Experiments , as well as old radio noises including spy code numbers sequences and static. Also on the table are radio handbooks and the Boy Scout Radio merit badge booklet , along with a transistor radio and assorted radio tubes. The desk drawer holds old medical rubber stamps, biological sampling kits, and "secret" stickers -mostly surplus from Los Alamos.
The bulletin board above the desk has ham radio postcards and photos of "Davy Crockett" , the smallest nuclear device made. as well as a rocket launched nuclear device.
On the wall above the work table is a vintage Japanese topographic map, overlaid with a radiological fallout predictor.
On the worktable, the boy has a guided missile launcher/Radar Erector set , a Paint-by Numbers canvas of Hiroshima after the bomb, plans for the Fat Man and Little Boy bombs, as well as plans for a family bomb shelter. These plans correspond with the Boy Scout Atomic Merit Badge booklet, also on the tabletop. There are several model kits on the table-a plastic model kit of a nuclear merchant marine ship, and several car and monster models. My personal favorite is the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth model " Angel Fink. There is also licorice, goggles, and decoding machine from a 007 attache case (one of the coolest toys I ever had....
Next to the work table is a rolling table with toys, including a truck I painted with the Manhattan Project Protective Force insignia, taken from an shoulder patch that I found at The Black Hole, a surplus store in Los Alamos where I get alot of my materials. On the floor next to the cart is handmade toolbox filled with tools that had been burned in the fire that ripped through the town of Los Alamos, and Los Alamos labs in 2000.
On the wall above the science table are black butterfly collections, as well as a small shelf holding rocket and space capsule models. On the table is a vintage Gilbert chemistry set with hand-blown glass beakers and containers. There is also a microscope and slides, as well as a scale and a set of optical glass filters (Los Alamos surplus).
On the boy's coat rack is a recut vintage Los Alamos lab coat, a child-sized gas mask, a Cub Scout shirt and cap (with a Los Alamos Protective Force shoulder patch), and a vintage gabardine jacket with a Ratfink patch on the back.
On the dresser top (full of the boy's gray clothes) is a wooden Santa Fe brand cigar box with some treasures in it. There is an old wasp's nest, some black and white pot shards, an arrowhead, a pocket knife, and other small items. Next to it sits a tooled leather frame holding a print of the Meret Oppenheim x-ray self-portrait. These sit on a black, cross-stitched doily. Oh, and the raven feather.
Above the bed hang Paint-By-Numbers paintings of different atomic bomb explosions.
The bed has a quilt with black flowers appliqued and atomic symbols quilted on it. Laying on the bed are Mad magazines, and a Superboy comic whose cover shows Superboy behind an x-ray screen that shows an atomic explosion inside him. Also, there is a flashlight and his pajamas, that have atomic symbols and medical skeleton figures printed on the flannel.
The nightstand has a vintage western wagon lamp made from Cholla (cactus) wood with a shade constructed from children's x-rays. His reading material is "Survival in a Nuclear Disaster", and "Radioisotopes in Medicine", a booklet published by the Atomic Energy Commission that actually describes the experiment the children participated in.
The television setup has a cartoon of Coyote getting repeatedly blown up (Coyote loses his body over and over....), cut with actual atomic bomb explosion footage. The audio for the cartoon is geiger counter clicking.
The tv tray has a delicious gray peanut butter sandwich on a vintage astronaut plate, an atomic Einstein spoon and a juice glass with glow-in-the-dark acid green juice in it.The juice is the only colored object in the room.