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New Work: The Doomsday Clock

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Pentagram has updated the image of the Doomsday Clock, the graphic symbol of the world’s proximity to nuclear annihilation. The clock is the emblem of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the advocacy group formed in 1945 by scientists from the Manhattan Project. The redesign, developed by Michael Bierut and Armin Vit, coincides with the group’s decision to move the clock forward from seven to five minutes before midnight, or metaphorical doomsday. The move forward reflects the increasing availability of nuclear weapons and the effects of climate change. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced the two-minute move forward today.

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Previous incarnation of the clock, from 2002

The clock symbol was devised in 1947 by the artist Martyl, who was married to a physicist who worked on the development of the atomic bomb. In the years since, it has been used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as a stark reminder of nuclear danger. The closest the clock has been to midnight was two minutes, in 1953, after the US and Soviet Union both tested hydrogen bombs; the furthest has been 17 minutes, in 1991, after the US and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The clock last moved forward in 2002, following 9/11.

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Bulletin, before and after

Pentagram has also redesigned the organization’s bi-monthly journal. Brad Holland created the cover illustration for the first issue of the redesign.

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We also created a promotional campaign that places the clock over images of contemporary warfare.

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The proverbial final countdown…