« The Problem with Amer… | Home | Why Do I Fight? »

Nuclear Images

When starting this blog, I had the task of searching for images of “violence” to define our new site. On Violence is concerned with war, foreign policy and military affairs, but it all boils down to one thing: Violence.

Elsewhere I’ve explained my logic about the title images. This week I’d like to share more images of violence I found, and what they mean to me and to the world. The first images I thought of using were the images of nuclear war.Some images depict the cost of violence completely; others, as in this tragic case, fail to.

These images convey so much, but the first thing I think of is their age, of how they are old, nostalgic. Though we still live in the Nuclear Age, and Fourth Generation of Warfare would not exist without it, we are no longer in the Cold War.

These images feel cold, lifeless. They feel harmless. Viewed without context, a child would think they were clouds. With context, we know that the first image is of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, the second the one that destroyed Nagasaki, and that together they represent the instant death of over 100,000 people and the eventual death of over another 100,000. The disconnect seems so strange to me; how an image can look so harmless, so lovely and not even hint at the death below it.

How subtle one attribute, in this case color -- and only the color red -- can change an image. Clouds have turned into fireballs, the epitome of the nuclear weapon: the ultimate exchange of heat and death.

These weapons create fear, a sort of hellish landscape in the air. But again, without context, these images don’t do justice to the massive levels of destruction these weapons are capable of. Too big, too huge, to be understood in a simple photo, these photos run the risk of all things too large; if we cannot understand something we don't worry about it. We may soon enter the age of nuclear terrorism. The debate is still abstract, just like these images.

two comments

Remember Terminator 2, when Sarah is watching herself play with her son at the playground until the nuclear blast? When I first saw that depiction, I understood how terrible a thing these weapons are. Until that point, like you said, they were nothing but bright flashes with unique cloud formations.

Yeah, we probably need to write a post on that scene, and on other scnes of nuclear war, of which there are not enough. Dammit, I feel like you out thought me on this one.