Apr 15 2012: Eighteen Monochrome Illustrations From Atomics Magazine (Leonard Hill Technical Publications, 1956)
Back in 1956, the progressive vision of the Festival of Britain had faded somewhat, with most of the South Bank site demolished by the Conservative governments that followed the set up of the 1945 consensus, and in place of that more whimsical and social kind of progressive ideal, a harder, more technocratic and businesslike version was beginning to seep in: the version that underwrote Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of new technology’ as the crucible of social transformation, rather than social transformation itself. It’s an ethos that has stayed in place pretty much ever since, as successive waves of economists, planners, digital evangelists and many others have routinely suggested that technology or scientific theory of one sort or another will improve things without much need to change the foundations of the society on which such problems as poverty, inequality, ogliarchy and the heredity principle that still largely governs access to wealth, opportunity and certain professions are founded. The faith in technology is seen here, in a 1956 issue of Atomics magazine, a publication aimed at specialists in the new Nuclear industries that were built on defence budgets, but sold, as often as not, on the potential for peaceful uses of the technology in medicine and domestic power generation. Looking at these pages today, it’s a world that seems to genuinely believe this technology might deliver power so cheap and free of pollution that the future would be entirely secured by its extensive use.