One of the major consequences of the Cold War and the commingling of scientific and military interests by world powers was the increasingly secretive nature of scientific research. From the Manhattan Project onwards, the free exchange implicit in the collective enterprise of scientific knowledge production became regulated and increasingly clandestine. Neal White's artistic research is explicitly engaged in interrogating both the investigative procedures of science as method and the ways in which these procedures can be turned toward an investigation of secrecy itself. In their discussion, Beck and White explore the ideas and practices that inform White's conception of art as a mode of experimental research. Central to this project is what White calls 'overt research,' whereby the spaces of techno-scientific and military-industrial enterprise are explored through the documentation of physical sites and material evidence. In the exhibition Dark Places (Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 2009), White and others explored the ways in which such places are both embedded and imaginatively narrated as part of a contemporary UK landscape. White’s projects are discussed in relation to issues shaped by Cold War research: secrecy, surveillance, accountability, participation, and the power relations implicit in knowledge production.
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