Sunday, March 23

Top 10 America's best-kept secrets - Photographs

Taryn Simon photographs some of the most top-secret, highly restricted areas in the world. Her latest book, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, took four years to assemble as the photographer gained access to research facilities and government offices hidden from the public. "I felt like I was discovering a new landscape in America, a new terrain, morally and politically," she said.

The book dives under the surface of society with images of decomposing bodies and radioactive waste, deadly viruses and an outdoor recreation area for death-row inmates. The result is an all-access pass into America's best-kept secrets.

Below is the list of America's best-kept secrets and my top ten is in no particular order. These are facts i collected from I don't know how far these are truthful or worthy. Anyway i thought i would be good to present this to my user so that let them decide its value.

1) Avian Quarantine Facility

AvianQuarantineThe New York Animal Import Center in Newburgh, New York, detains all imported birds for a mandatory 30-day quarantine before testing them for bird flu and other diseases.

"I decided to photograph this facility because as a citizen, I was concerned about (avian flu), and what things were being done to protect our country," said Simon. Simon scheduled her visit to the Avian Quarantine Facility between trips to other limited-access research facilities to avoid cross-contamination.

2) Cherenkov Radiation, Nuclear Waste Storage Facility

NuclearRadiationSubmerged in a pool of water, these stainless-steel nuclear-waste capsules contain radioactive material. The water serves as a shield against the radiation emitted. Nearly 2,000 capsules reside at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington State, which is considered among the most contaminated waste sites in the United States.

"Radiation is a light source I've never worked with, so there was no visual reference to shoot (the images) from -- it was a leap of faith," Simon said. "I found this one section that resembled the U.S. That was a great find." The blue glow comes from an effect called Cherenkov radiation.

3) Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, Decomposing Corpse

Forensic_AnthropologyThe world's primary research center for the study of corpse decomposition in Knoxville, Tennessee, is nicknamed "the body farm" and hosts up to 75 cadavers in various stages of decay. The skeletal analysis of human remains helps solve murder cases.

Simon said she was granted full access to shoot as she pleased, which, given the setting, was a bit disconcerting: "They gave me gloves, let me roam around and do whatever I wanted to do. I had a strange reaction to being there with bodies lying all around," Simon said. "I was thinking a lot about how we handle and interpret and respect our dead."

4) White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding

WhiteTigerSimon photographed Kenny, an extremely rare white tiger at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kenny suffers from mental retardation, as well as walking and breathing problems. In the United States, white tigers are the result of inbreeding during captivity that leads to their white fur and blue eyes. The other tigers in Kenny's litter are knock-kneed and cross-eyed, with yellow coats.

"The white tiger is a huge part of American entertainment and commerce and from a distance you look at it as a familiar image," Simon said. "With Kenny, you gaze and begin to realize there's something not quite right. You get the idea that something is off, but not immediately."

5) Playboy, Braille Edition

PlayboyBrailleThe National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress, maintains a free national library of braille materials. Playboy was selected on the basis of demonstrated reader interest; Congress funds free distribution of the braille edition.

"The approach is informed by the content," Simon said. "I think about the formality, the art and seductive quality and then consider the content to shoot the image."

6) Cryopreservation Unit

CryopreservationThe Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan, currently preserves 74 legally dead human patients and 44 dead pets, charging the same price it has charged since its establishment in 1976: $28,000 with advance reservation.

7) Contraband Room, United States Customs and Border Protection

JFKThe foodstuffs in this image were seized over a 48-hour period from passengers arriving at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, from abroad. Among the pictured items are African yams, uncooked meats, fresh eggs, okra and a South Asian lime infected with citrus canker.

"This room is one of my favorite shots. I spent hours arranging the contraband to get it to look like a still life," Simon said.

8) Live HIV, HIV Research Laboratory

LiveHIVThis flask contains live human immunodeficiency virus, used to study the neutralizing potential of antibodies against the virus at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

"With all of the photographs, I was trying to get at a white noise that was disorienting, and yet there's a reserve," Simon said. "There's something apocalyptic and yet something optimistic in it."

9) Death-Row Outdoor Recreational Facility, "The Cage"

DeathRowAt the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio, death-row inmates are allowed one hour of outdoor recreation per day. There is only a chin-up bar inside the segregated cages, and inmates are not allowed to bring anything in with them.

"It's a topic I was interested in personally, and it's an area that you come away from with so many vulnerabilities about the content," Simon said. "And the anxieties only grow when you make these discoveries."

10) Transatlantic Submarine Cables Reaching Land

TransAtlanticThese submarine telecommunication cables extend thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean before reaching this endpoint in Avon, New Jersey. They transmit as many as 60 million simultaneous conversations. "There's a humor because the cables are so important, yet they look so unguarded and unimportant," Simon said.

And here is an additional information for Top 10 users..... do drop your comments if any...

11) The CIA, Art

CIARoomIn this unexpected juxtaposition, Simon captures an image of fine art on display at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Included in the art collection are a bronze bust of George H.W. Bush and these two pieces by post-World War II painter Thomas Downing.


  1. kenny has mental retardation?! not the most modern p.c term i have ever heard.


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