10,000 Years: The Process of Designing Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 10,000 Years Into the Future
In 1990, the US Department of Energy held a conference at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. A group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers were tasked with devising a system to warn humans about the danger of this radioactive underground site. The catch? These humans would be alive 10,000 years from now.
More interesting than the implemented plan, however, were the various proposals conceived during the conference. This book documents the process of designing the marker system, both for curious individuals today and those in 10,000 years. The titling, sectioning, and indexing of the content, as well as the visual cues—folders, scanned documents, labels, printed spiral binding—are a nod to the US government’s documentation system.
Inspired by Episode 114: “Ten Thousand Years” of the podcast 99% Invisible, which I transcribed and edited. The written dialogue of the podcast is supplemented by photos, documents, and sketches that I collected and captioned.