Jayne Loader’s Public Shelter
Critical Mass might have taken some cues from Jayne Loader’s Public Shelter(EJL Productions), a disc that attacks the issue with a peculiar ace-in-the-hole – a sense of humor. It is black humor, to be sure, but it’s humor nonetheless, and it elevates Public Shelter above Critical Mass or any of the umpteen-million other CD-ROMs about the start of the nuclear age. The source material for the disc is Ms. Loader’s movie The Atomic Caf?, but this is not simply a ported-to-PC job; there’s new footage and updated information, including a section on the recent admissions from Uncle Sam regarding nuclear testing. Public Shelter’s interface is intended to simulate a World Wide Web experience, albeit one where there’s no waiting for multimedia to download (a glimpse into the future, the manual suggests). Move from homepage to homepage, and therefore from topic to topic, absorbing multimedia left and right. 40 minutes of film, hours of audio, countless photographs, and intelligent text all use the same ironic distance to examine nuclear testing in the ’50s without growing didactic or repetitive. The idea seems obvious in retrospect, especially when so many army training films are naturally self-parodying with their earnest, transparent assurances of safety – so why hasn’t anybody else thought of it? Public Shelter has something to say and an original way of saying it. Don’t miss it.
– June 1996, History & Mythology
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