In this composition, the artist takes as his template the concept of a graveyard or death spiral, a perilous spiral dive accidentally entered into by an airplane pilot who is either not proficient in instrument flight or who miscalculates based on over confidence in his or her perceptions. Implicit in this digitally generated print is an analogy between the pilot and the policymaker each responsible for inadvertently setting an ever-tightening, descending spiral into motion.
In his Graveyard Spiral, Dailey lures the viewer into a mesmerizing form coiling in on itself, drawing us through a maze of color-coded operational plans for employing nuclear weapons. The five colors match those used by the U.S. Armed Forces to indicate increasing levels of severity for varying military situations and graduated alert states of the defense readiness condition (DEFCON). As we consider such linguistically acrobatic and sanitized options as “single integrated operational plan,” “limited nuclear options,” “counterforce,” “launch on warning,” “first strike,” and “leadership decapitation,” we are inexorably pulled deeper into the dizzying array of consequential decisions that come under consideration in political and military planning in our atomic age.
Similar to his encrypted Riddles series, Dailey again exploits the spiral form to great effect in this prismatic work. The composition’s simultaneously centripetal and centrifugal design creates a duality and dynamic tension that animate the work. We are confronted with the reality that, whether navigating a plane or a nation, the failure to recognize and/or correctly respond to precarious conditions can lead to deadly consequences.