A fallen empire in the snow


From Wired:

In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union built an amphibious airplane designed to skim the sea, searching for US nuclear submarines. It flew, but the Kremlin scuttled the Bartini Beriev VVA-14 after a prototype crashed, the designer died, and a supplier bungled an order. The one remaining plane rusts away in a field at the Russian Air Force Museum outside Moscow.

That ill-fated plane is among 33 Soviet-era relics that Danila Tkachenko photographed for his series and photo book Restricted Areas. Many see them as monuments to the Cold War, a reminder of a time when the world lived under the threat of annihilation. But Tkachenko sees the Soviet Union’s aspirations and failures, and a rejection of the pursuit of political and technological utopias. “My project is a metaphor [for] post-technology apocalypse,” he says.

The series takes its name from the dozens of “secret” cities that housed the government’s most sensitive military and scientific programs. These cities were closed to all but the people who worked in them, and visits required approval from the highest levels. Many of them still stand today, abandoned and falling into ruin.

Read the rest.

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A fallen empire in the snow

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

This is great. From Wired:

Walking around cities like Prague and Krakow in the late 1980s, American David Hlynsky was struck by the lack of advertising on the streets. Instead of Pepsi and the Marlboro man, shop windows displayed scant offerings of everyday items like bread or plumbing supplies. The lack of frivolity fascinated him.

“In the dying days of the Cold War, I saw these windows as a vast ad hoc museum of a great failing utopia,” Hlynsky writes.

He documented the crumbling aesthetic in 450 windows across the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. A portion of his work recently was published in Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain. His photos capture a world on the brink of collapse, one in which a strange blend of Communism and consumerism converge.

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

Marketing the moon

From Brain Pickings:

One year after the surprise launch of Sputnik, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded. The U.S. space program was determined to be markedly different from the Soviets — it would be an “open program” in which facts and data would flow freely between the agency and the public using an extensive public relations program, explain authors David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek in Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program (public library). It was a radical proposition: NASA, not the military, would release information and information would be released before, not after, a mission — an antithesis to the typical military strategy of confidentially. Tragedy would be reported alongside success.

Despite the somewhat cynical title, Marketing the Moon is not simply a story of the “selling” of the space program or the “spinning” of the NASA public relations machine — rather, it’s a rigorous and unvarnished look at one of the largest and most successful disseminations of science education in the twentieth century.

Marketing the moon