7 Minutes to Midnight, installation view, artist's studio, Miami, Florida, counterclockwise clock, 10.25" April 28th, 2020. Photo © Alian Rives' Studio

Conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic context, 7 Minutes to Midnight addresses the risk of self-inflicted harm arising from uncontrolled progress in science and technology. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists manages a symbolic timepiece called The Doomsday Clock [1], though it does not function like a regular clock. Instead of telling time, the position of the minute hand on the clock symbolizes the proximity of humanity to potential self-destruction due to unregulated advancements in science and technology. As the minute hand inches closer to midnight with each passing second, the peril to humanity intensifies.

Since its establishment in 1947, the Doomsday Clock has served as an indicator of U.S./Russian relations. Its creation followed hydrogen bomb testing, marking 7 minutes to midnight. During Nixon's era of detente, the clock stood at 12 minutes to midnight. In 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was 17 minutes to midnight. Over the past three years, the clock has remained fixed at 100 seconds.

Sixty years ago, amid the Cuban Missile Crisis, the clock displayed its original time – 7 minutes until midnight. Facing the imminent threat of nuclear disaster, President Kennedy and a close circle of advisors convened to avert the worst possible outcome. While hindsight portrays that period as a high-stakes diplomatic game, the Archives house documents and notes from that moment, providing insights into their thoughts, decisions, and actions. This piece delves into the records chronicling one of the most intense 13 days in American history.

[1] Madden, Patrick. n.d. "Archives Experience." National Archives Foundation. Accessed 12 16, 2023. https://www.archivesfoundation.org/newsletter/seven-minutes-to-midnight/.