The Evolution of Silence (Version 1)

2013 (launched), 2021 (latest update). Web-based, with sound. Official Honoree in NetArt awarded by The Webby Awards.
project link:


Rachele Riley: Art, Design, Research
Danniel Gaidula: Technical Consultant

Video capture of by Rachele Riley on Vimeo:

The Evolution of Silence, Version 1 is a web-based map, which explores the impact of forty-one years of post-WWII nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site (a remote and highly-restricted area 80 miles north of Las Vegas, NV). The map focuses on Yucca Flat, an area within the Nevada Test Site, which is marked by hundreds of sinkhole craters caused by underground nuclear explosions.

As part of a series of explorations, the map presents a multivalent interpretation of the data of war and the dynamics of transformation. Layers to the project reveal disorienting views of the environment and of human involvement. The map visualizes the individual and accumulated location(s) of every nuclear detonation that occurred in Yucca Flat (828 total). The official data from the U.S. Department of Energy is connected to other kinds of data—my drawings, photos, videos, sounds, writings, etc. Fragments of satellite images (a grant from the DigitalGlobe Foundation) form a partially reconstructed aerial view of the valley floor, in which only the detonation sites are visualized. The viewer is able to break apart this composite image even further—by manually dragging the image tiles and actively rearranging and separating them from one another on screen. One is challenged through their own inquiry to make sense of the scale of violence that occurred and to conceptually reclaim this contested space through an experience of knowing. Bypassing government restrictions on the Nevada Test Site that limit its visual representation, the project allows anyone to engage aspects of this resilient landscape and to reflect on the toll of war.


Official Honoree in NetArt by The Webby Awards (2014)


2017 AIGA Philadelphia Design Awards

+ exhibitions + presentations

Ambiguous Territory
Taubman College Gallery
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Sept 27–Oct 2017

Artifact and Process: The Evolving Field of Graphic Design
Weeks Gallery
Jamestown, NY
February 8–March 22, 2016
Guest-curated by Jason Dilworth.
Gallery talk on February 12, 2016 at 6 pm.

Acting in Translation
SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery
Vancouver, Canada
August 2014
Curated by Basak Senova
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Mapping Ephemeralities
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
August 2015

Praxis and Poetics: Research through Design
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead, UK
September 2013

+ publications

Studies in Material Thinking (journal publication)
Special Issue: Visual/Textual, Vol.13
Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, Auckland University of Technology

SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery Talks
August 12, 2014
Published in Leonardo Journal Vol. 47, Issue 4, 2014. Special Siggraph Issue


Archival photos, maps, documents and artifacts are courtesy of:
The DigitalGlobe Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, United States Geological Survey, National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, Las Vegas News Bureau, Cahlan Research Library (Nevada State Museum), Special Collections Library at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nuclear Testing Archive, National Atomic Testing Museum, National Archives, and Library of Congress.

This project has been made possible in part with grants from:
DigitalGlobe Foundation
University of the Arts in Philadelphia
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Hatchfund (USA Projects) Open Match Fund

Special thanks to all who contributed to the funding of my project, and especially to all my Hatchfund supporters:

Richard Felton, Lisa M. C. Joven, Jerome Cloud, Hans-Ulrich Allemann, Erin Riley, Nonie Kimpitak, Paul Riley, Mildred Riley, Patrycja Doniewski, Marjorie Halstead, Maria McVarish, JoAnne R. Baron, Thomas Balsley, Bonnie Willett-Goad, Stacie Goffin, Mark Jamra, Elizabeth Craig, Ron Johnson, Sean Riley, Je Seok Koo, John Connolly, Laurence Bach, Maia Wright, Christine Zelinsky, Tina Thuermer, Gabrielle Esperdy, Afua Brown, Jan C. Almquist, Sara Abraham, Miriam Simun, Margaret Urban, Tulin Acikalin, Anna Bühler, Jason Dilworth, Janet Williams, Joshua Singer, Andrea Weissenbuehler, Virginia Faircloth, Lindsey Culpepper, Eleanor J. Edgett, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Teresa Ilnicki, C.J. Hawn, Debby and John Hanrahan, Warren Lehrer, Semi Ryu, Marcie Paper, Sandra Maxa, Kaitlin Gehshan, Jennifer Sudul-Edwards, Derek Coté, Alex Wagaman, Joseph Poccia, Ben Kuyper