This work is motivated though sensing the resurgent nuclear
threat first experienced as a child growing up during the cold war. An aperture in a rusty girder provides a
glimpse, captured through a contingent video on a mobile phone, of the
by-products of the atomic age juxtaposed with the remote beauty of the site at
Orford Ness (1). The provisional ceramic viewfinder makes reference to the
framing of our own perception but also the integral role of photography within
nuclear research, the formation of an accepting public, and resistance through
art and journalism. Nuclear weapons and
the threat of nuclear war were acknowledged by political philosopher Hannah
Arendt as: “... fundamental experiences of our age, and if we ignore them it is
as if we never lived in the world that is our world" (Arendt, 2007 p.
109-110). What does it mean to see the world ‘through post-atomic eyes’ (Lauzon
and O’Brian, 2021)? How do the dangers posed by atomic energy and nuclear
warfare shape our responses to other imminent threats? How might we understand the ‘slow violence’
(Nixon, 2011) of some of the most pressing issues of sustainability, such as toxic
drift and climate change, as atomic by-products?
National Trust, 2021. Orford Ness.
The National Trust
Arendt, H., 2007. The Promise of Politics. New York;
Lauzon C., and O’Brian J., 2021. Through Post-Atomic Eyes. Montreal &
Kingston, London, Chicago: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Nixon, R., 2011. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of
the Poor.Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press.