Sweet Obliteration

George (8 May 1951)
~ George was the world’s first thermonuclear burn.

 

Upshot-Knothole Grable (25 May 1953)
~ Upshot-Knothole Grable was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon (the M65 Atomic Cannon).

 

Tsar Bomba (30 October 1961)
~ Tsar Bomba remains the most powerful artificial explosion in human history.

 

Tightrope (4 November 1962)
~ Tightrope was the last atmospheric test conducted by the United States of America before signing the 1963 treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.

 

Project 596  (16 October 1964)
~ Project 596 was the The People’s Republic of China’s first nuclear test.

Sweet Obliteration
2014
5 digital projections, or 56 individual screens (each)
Variable dimensions

Coming from the realisation that movies are only an illusion of time and motion comprised of thousands of still images, the project forms part of a larger ongoing experiment to visually represent film, or moments in film, in a single image. The name of the series, although incongruous and purposefully so, refers to the moments of pleasure we experience when confronted with extraordinary physical phenomena, such as the tremendous power of a nuclear explosion. The profound impact of an atomic blast can be best understood by placing it in the context of the sublime. Almost as soon as the first devastatingly beautiful mushroom cloud evaporated, the scared awe and terror of the nuclear sublime quickly degenerated into a new atomic aesthetic of the familiar and the banal. The bomb, and its iconic mushroom cloud, which featured on everything from newsreels, newspapers, and magazines to bikinis, t-shirts, posters, stamps, records, and even corporate logos, was promptly reduced to nuclear kitsch. Thus, the project is an attempt to undermine the image by way of the image itself.

The work is intentionally silent, to contemplate on the imagery itself; however, it’s hypothetical soundtrack—the one that plays in my head when viewing it—is Sine Wave by Mogwai.