THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

CONTAINMENT BOARD GAME

photo of twin nuclear cooling towers

In the heady days of atomic fever during the 1950s, the board game Uranium Rush encouraged American children to experience the delight and financial windfall of uranium mining. Only two decades later, the face of nuclear-inspired games changed. Shamus Games introduced Containment in 1979, following the disaster at Three Mile Island. Reflecting the polarized atmosphere of the late seventies, pro and anti-nuclear forces spar, as the threat of nuclear meltdown looms. Containment serves as an object and as a launching pad to consider broader questions about risk, deep time, nuclear power, and nuclear waste. At its core, the game intersects with a historical moment in the late seventies and early eighties, where the debate surrounding nuclear power, waste, and energy consumption/production reached its critical peak. Containment embodies contradictory messages; nuclear power and its catastrophic potential are finite and quantifiable, while also terrifyingly ever-present. In this imaginary sphere, one player wins, and time, as restricted to the game, stops. In reality, nuclear disasters and nuclear waste represent a seemingly infinite and unquantifiable material and environmental presence that no object of popular culture can render accurately. As an artifact of the Anthropocene, Containment represents the inconceivable - conceived in material form.

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