HREX (2005)

(a duet from “Dance Macabre”)

The term “HREX” is the scientific acronym for “human radiation experiment”. Human experimentation has been practiced for centuries. There are cases of vivisection (live dissection) of gladiators and slaves that date back from the Roman era. Throughout history, the population of those used for medical experimentation have always been the outcast: the orphans, prisoners, mentally retarded, veterans, wounded soldiers, and asylum residents.

When former President Clinton ordered the declassification of the government-sponsored human radiation experiments, publishing them on the internet in 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was forced to disclose notes from 425 experiments conducted by the DOE and the Atomic Energy Commission from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. The majority of these experiments documented no informed consent from the subjects.

T.S. Chapman of Manhattan District Experiments at the University of California during the 1940’s said on record that it was commonplace to use patients in plutonium, uranium, polonium, lead, or radium injection and ingestion experiments without their knowledge and without asking them to sign release or consent waivers. It was protocol to schedule false-pretense surgeries to obtain samples of bone tissue, spleen tissue, liver tissue, and extraction of whole teeth to measure retained radioactive concentrations.

If you wish to regard HREX’s as things of the past to help you sleep better at night, know this: a doctor at Yale University in February 2005 said that “Children in orphanages, children in homes of the mentally retarded, these are all good populations from the sense of medical research, because you have an easily accessible group of people living in controlled circumstances, and you can monitor them….It would even be an advantage in applying for grant money, because you don’t have to go to the problem of recruiting subjects.”

Sometimes you don’t have to seek out fantastic tales of gruesome monsters for a good scare. You need only look to your left or right.

This piece purposely places the dancers in some extremly taxing physical positions, and forces them to work with some senses partially hindered, to really give a sense of fear and helplessness. They start the piece in hampered breathing conditions, they peel out of hosiptal gowns, their vision is obscured with wet chiffon, their bodies are covered in a sticky paste like substance, and they have pre-wet gauze and plastic insects in their mouths.