#093 Nuclear Aesthetics
The invention of nuclear energy has brought a new imaginary: the consciousness that time may as well end. The iconic imagery of atomic blasts has infiltrated the public mind as a terrible beauty, destructive yet leaving the spectator in awe. This paradoxical experience of the atomic sublime elevated dystopian anxieties and myths of progress to the status of an aesthetic event.
The age of anxiety of the cold war has found new meaning amid current uncertainties, with the pandemic and the climate crisis seemingly bringing doomsday back in arm’s reach. Does the destruction of the past haunt us in the present? Does its imaginary and imagery find its way back to us, not as a ‘bright and wonderful future,’ but as the end of the future itself? Catastrophe looms, but society continues regardless, absorbed in the everyday yet suddenly struck by the fear of the unknown.
This programme examines the (visual) language of apocalyptic anxiety and technologies, both in a historic cold war as a contemporary setting. Ranging from the atomic sublime to politics’ fear speak, responsibility, uncertainty, and ignorance, Nuclear Aesthetics shows different modes of representation of the terrible beauty of doomsday.
This programme was curated by Marijn Bril as part of her Internship in 2020.
Films in this programme
(US 1976, 36 min)
(US 1991, 9:32)
(UK 2019, 3:38)
(UK 2015, 15:39)
(FR 2018, 11:14)