Fallout from Idle Thoughts

When I was a kid, I lived in a building in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan, that was a designated “Fallout Shelter.” Because the building was made of brick, all floors up to seven were deemed safe from radiation. I lived on seven. There was also a so-called “shelter” in the storage room where we kept our bicycles, supplied with big containers of “fresh” water and soda crackers (they were kept there for eight years), just in case we survived the big bang. Every two weeks or so, the air raid sirens would blow and we were directed to duck under our desks at the local public school. We were told that placing our hands over our head would protect us from flying debris. Still, our survival was not assured. I was reminded of those anxious times today and immediately thought about what kind of imagery triggers fear. (I guess it’s just one of those days when idle thoughts corrupt idle minds.) For me, it will always be the mushroom cloud, at once spectacular and horrifying. So, what man-made image frightens you most?

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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