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Films in this programme

#093 Nuclear Aesthetics

(Visual) Languages of Apocalyptic Anxieties

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 created by Marijn Bril as part of her Internship in 2020

Films in dit programma

Crossroads
Bruce Conner
(US 1976, 36 min)
In his iconic work, Bruce Conner turned declassified US National Archive footage of the Bikini Atoll bomb tests into an assemblage. Shot...
Involuntary Conversion
Jeanne C. Finley
(US 1991, 9:32)
The pentagon uses the term involuntary conversion to refer to a crash – a starting point for Finley to investigate bureaucratic...
Extinction Rebellion x Chernobyl
Ted Hunt
(UK 2019, 3:38)
In the final scene of the HBO series Chernobyl, the main character speaks of the toxic consequences of denial and inaction. Ted Hunt...
Sitting in the Darkness
Graeme Arnfield
(UK 2015, 15:39)
Out of the darkness, a sound emerges. It echoes and drones. Terrified people take to the streets in search of its source. They get their...
HOTEL, The Box
Benjamin Nuel
(FR 2018, 11:14)
A community of Sims lives in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of a large, growing city. Everyone goes about their own...