Wednesday, July 07, 2010

2,053 Explosions

I think one of the many problems I've had with posting lately is that I've idealized what I used to do around here. Because I don't devote as much time to the blog as I used to, I end up thinking that the old posts were all extensive ruminations instead of little bits and pieces of culture, which they more often were. So one way to try to get out of this rut is to start lowering my expectations for what constitutes a post -- and thus probably hit the same level that I had in the past.

Here's a weirdly mesmerizing piece of video art. I'll let Wired (UK) explain:
A Japanese artist named Isao Hashimoto has created a series of works about nuclear weapons. One is titled "1945-1998" and shows a history of the world's nuclear explosions.

Over the course of fourteen and a half minutes, every single one of the 2,053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 are plotted on a map.

A metronomic beep every second represents months passing, and a different tone indicates explosions from different countries. It starts out slowly, with the Manhattan Project's single test in the U.S. and the two terrible bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II.

After a couple of minutes or so, however, once the USSR and Britain entered the nuclear club, the tests really start to build up, reaching a peak of nearly 140 in 1962, and remaining well over 40 each year until the mid-80s.
The video is below. It's beautifully designed, and worth your time from start to finish. I'm fascinated by the idea of nuclear tests, and the staggering number there have been. I recently read and reviewed a novel (The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall) that has, as part of its background, tests in the Western U.S. If you know of a good book (preferably narrative) that details that history, I'd love to know.


Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

All that radiation in the USA -- it's still in the air, the water, the ground...explains a lot.

4:59 PM  

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