PUBLIC INFORMATION EXHIBITION: CURATED BY CRAIG WOOD & PETER FINNEMORE
ORIEL MYRDDIN, CARMARTHEN, SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2014
Public Information was a cross-disciplinary multi-media exhibition at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in response to Dylan Thomas' war films made for the Ministry of Information.
For Public Information, Jason & Becky explored some of the coded messages from public information broadcasts of the early 1980’s. 1983 was a time of heightened east-west tension, when ‘what to do in the event of a nuclear attack’ was regularly televised in the spirit of public information. Their sound installation reflected on the human messages and relationships behind the political propaganda and social conditioning of the time. Using codes developed by Peter Saville for Factory Records in 1983, Jason & Becky translated the quiet and extraordinary story of a Russian command officer who saved the world from nuclear destruction in September of the same year.
The artists interpreted the codes as if an attack had happened, so blinding the population from colour with the flash of a nuclear explosion. Utilising Pantone references, they re-assigned tones to Peter Saville’s code to audibly tell the story of Stanislov Petrov* ‘The Man who Saved the World’.
*Stanislav Petrov, in 1983, was the duty officer at the command centre for the Oko Nuclear Early Warning System in the Soviet Air Defence Forces. The system reported a missile launch by the USA, but instead of reporting this to his superiors who would have launched a retaliatory attack on the US, he interpreted it as a false alarm. He had a hunch that it was wrong. 23 minutes passed before he realised he’d made the correct decision.
Infact the satellite system had malfunctioned due to ‘a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds’. It was years before anyone knew about Stanislov Petrov’s heroic caution. He felt it would bring shame on the Soviet Air Defence if anyone knew their detection system was flawed.