Thursday, 30 July 2009
Returned recently from the International Visual Sociology Association conference at the University of Cumbria, Carlisle. I was on a panel focusing on military landscapes led by Rachel Woodward and Neil Jenkins from Newcastle University. Other panelist included Ed Walley (Leeds Metropolitan University) and Gair Dunlop (University of Dundee). Both gave fine papers: Ed focused on the visibility/invisibility of the military presence in Yorkshire with an emphasis on the Cold War, while Gair's paper, Regimes of Time and the Militarised 20th Century, explored what he called the 'production of micro-time' (issues relating to nuclear detonation) through to the 'extended' time of obsolescence and entropy. Gair also produced this astounding image from Operation Tumbler-Snapper. I nearly fell off my chair. It still gives me the shivers today. I subsequently learned that the image, of a 'rope trick fireball' was taken one millisecond after detonation.
Monday, 6 July 2009
The 4th of July celebrations kicked off at RAF Feltwell with a rousing speech by the director of ‘Tops in Blue’ USAF performance troop, in which we were encouraged to ‘dare to dream’ - about what, however, wasn’t all that clear. It seemed less about the possibility of a change in American foreign policy and more about shoring up those ‘values’ which are apparently so crucial to life in a democratic society. Anyway, this all took place in one of the remaining American military enclaves in East Anglia. Lakenheath and Mildenhall are close by but are possibly too sensitive to host an event which is open to local civilians or interested party crashers like yours truly. Feltwell, it seems is no longer the home of the 5th Space Surveillance Squadron (departed in 2003) which, according to Global Security was ‘responsible for detecting, tracking and identifying the status of satellites orbiting Earth’ using ‘the Deep Space Tracking System (DSTS) and low altitude satellites using the Low Altitude Space Surveillance (LASS) system’. That would account for the unavoidable presence of four unique radomes, one of which was used as an improvised projection screen for a vast image of the Statue of Liberty. The 48th Fighter Wing, our host, (also known as the Statue of Liberty Wing) is also based at RAF Lakenheath where, two days earlier, Joe Biden flew in on a ‘unspecified mission’. I didn’t see him here, anyway…