︎ London, UK 

Joe Burrows

Joe Burrows is a documentary photographer and visual researcher with an interest in the nuclear anthropocene. His practice utilises open-source intelligence, archives, satellite imagery and deep research practices to visualise the post-atomic era and the power structures and technologies that enabled and perpetuate it.

Find me completing my MA at The Centre for Research Architecture.
Open to commissions and interesting opportunities.

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Joe Burrows
Current Work ︎︎︎

Operation Sabotage

(2022 - )

︎︎︎ Investigative
︎︎︎ Archival
︎︎︎ CBRN
︎︎︎ Biological Weapons
︎︎︎ Porton Down
︎︎︎ Top Secret

An ongoing visual investigation into a series of biological weapons trials conducted in public spaces across Britain from 1950 to 1964.

This work will take the form of an A4 dossier of archival images, original collages, maps, transparencies and texts.

In 1950, the Chief Superintendent of Microbiological Research Department, Porton Down, instigated a series of trials on the behaviour of bacterial aerosols released within vehicles, tunnels, buildings and within means of access of buildings. These trials were to determine the vulnerability of the public and government to sabotage attacks with Biological Weapon agents. The next 14 years would see five distinct series of trials using biological agents in public spaces.

This project lays out the events of each trial.

##–##–01952       (024)
Porton Down scientist recording the results of a biological trial in government owned tunnels under Wiltshire.

##–##–01964        (025)
Bacillus globigii in a conventional cardboard face powder carton. This was held together in such a way as it burst open when dropped from the window of a London Underground train. A little of the original face powder was added to “provide the correct odour” so that no undue interest would have been taken in the post-trial discovery of the box on the track.

##–##–01950        (028)
In earlier trials, the main stimulant used was Serratia marcescens: a few trials were also done with Bacillus globigii. Because twice-weekly long exposures to the aerosolised bacteria were involved, full protective clothing and respirator use was adopted. Further, the batches of SM were checked for non-pathogenicity with animal testing.