Dugway Proving Ground
During one scopic drive through the American West, we took a brief stop at the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, the nation's premier biological and chemical defense testing facility.
From GlobalSecurity.org: “The mission of Dugway is to test U.S. and Allied biological & chemical defense systems; perform Nuclear Biological Chemical survivable testing of defense material; provide support to chemical and biological weapons conventions; and Operate and maintain an installation to support test mission. Dugway is located approximately 80 miles west-southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah in Tooele County. DPG, covering 798,855 acres, is located in the Great Salt Lake Desert, approximately 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges, the proving grounds terrain varies from level salt flats to scattered sand dunes and rugged mountains.”
What goes on the ground sounds utterly fascinating and frightening at the same time, but only a lucky few ever gets to see them. For those without the necessary security clearance, TerraServer provides the perfect alternative. Taking a cue from Polar Inertia, here are some satellite photos of the military installation.
First of all, the sights from above are stunning. Despite the fact that they are the landscape markings of killing machines, capable of annihilating the entire global population, they are graphically beautiful. The US Army surely has outdone both Richard Long and Walter De Maria several times over. More sublime (in the true sense of the word) than Spiral Jetty. More relevant than Double Negative. The Department of Defense should definitely donate the site to Dia if and when it's decommissioned. Still contaminated, still littered with unexploded ordnance.
A comparison can certainly be made to Thomas Jefferson's Land Survey grid system imposed over much of the American landscape, overriding topography and pre-settlement cultural and ecological systems. Like its counterpart, the landscapes of lines at Dugway are governed by analytical methodology, mathematical hierarchies, mechanics, trigonometry. But rather than being an expression of democracy, settlement, domesticity, even the heroic rural life, this Jeffersonian grid has mutated into a sinister expression of global terrorism, surveillance, and chemical and biological warfare. The Apocalypse distilled as geometry and algebraic equations.
Dugway Proving Ground National Park