An absolutely fascinating article over at DesignObserver by Adam Levy on a set of post-nuclear photographs and their provenance. Here are a couple tastes:
But think of Hiroshima and what comes to mind is the mushroom cloud. Awesome in its way, with its bulbous head and towering stem, it is nonetheless an abstract image freed from human agency.
The lack of visual evidence of the atom bomb's effect has helped us to forget its devastating impact. To see is to remember. Up until now, there have been few publicly available images of what happened on the ground when the first atomic bomb exploded. As a result, Hiroshima has become, as the novelist Mary McCarthy wrote in 1946, "a kind of hole in human history."
These images go some way towards filling in this hole in our historical memory. Taken during the weeks following the bombing, they show a landscape that is eerily vacant and quiet, like ruins from a vanished civilization. But why were they taken and by whom? And how is it that they ended up in a pile of garbage?
And just a little bit more:
These photographs are significant not only for their visual message but also for their very existence as a group, for their cohesive documentation of an event of which we have few other still images.
Although the images taken by the Physical Damage Division don't depict the human suffering of the atomic bomb they do provide a vital function. They say: this is what we, mankind, are capable of unleashing upon each other. Like ruins, they refer back into time (this is what we have done, are capable of doing) while simultaneously warning of a future we have not yet encountered (they give substance to our terror of the use of another nuclear weapon).
Allan Chochinov is a partner of Core77, a New York-based design network serving a global community of designers and design enthusiasts, and Chair of the new MFA in Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Allan lectures around the world and at professional conferences including IDSA, AIGA and IxDA, has been a guest critic at various design schools in including Yale University, IIT, Carnegie Mellon, Ravensbourne, RMIT, University of Minnesota, Emily Carr, and RISD. He has moderated and led workshops and symposia at the Aspen Design Conference, the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Compost Modern, and Winterhouse, and is a frequent design competition juror. Prior to Core77, his work in product design focused on the medical, surgical, and diagnostic fields, as well as on consumer products and workplace systems. He has been named on numerous design and utility patents and has received awards from The Art Directors Club, I.D. Magazine, Communication Arts, and The One Club.