Thursday, 30 August 2012

A strange unearthly beauty

Isao Hashimoto took the acknowledged data on nuclear detonation and turned it into an computer game simulation. It works visually because it reminds us that while we haven't been paying attention, nearly 3000 thousand nuclear bombs have exploded on this planet. We fetishise Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but any alien observer would have concluded that we spent 1955-1992 at least in a state of global thermonuclear warfare. Hashimoto's use of computer graphics neatly encapsulates the layer of techno-disassociation we use to avoid thinking about it. The discourse of nuclear war is carefully scientific: yields, collateral damage, MAD, kilotons and so on, while the distance between decision and impact is more than geographical: it's moral too.

The way Hashimoto's use of beeps turns the animation into a strangely beautiful piece of music - a Death Disco - which calls to mind the fascination high and low culture has for massive destruction. Oppenheimer's response to the first test was to recite a line from the Bhagavad Gita: 'I am Vishnu, Destroyer of Worlds', in awe at what he'd unleashed.

This is why I'm still a member of CND.

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