In 1951, a young soldier waited in the Nevada desert and covered his eyes with his hands. Moments later, an all-consuming flash would alter the outcome of his life. He did not foresee this, since his government would not warn him of the dangers he faced. This was my father, who witnessed atomic test “Tumbler-Snapper Dog,” and later suffered its effects in the form of leukemia. He died in 1990, at the age of 61.
In my cyanotypes, I speak of the effects of the nuclear age upon the body. This photographic process uses sunlight for the exposure, and the poses create shadowed silhouettes. This evokes the vaporized traces left on Hiroshima’s walls, of those consumed when the sun was brought to earth.
Ephemeral, ghostly silhouettes tell of our fragile, transitory nature, and the permeability of our bodies to their environs. The distortion in the figures reminds us of so many born with birth defects – the scrambling of genetic code by radioactive damage, visited upon those of the next generation. A certain flash-like quality within the images evokes the horrific, but beautiful detonations themselves. Some are reminded of X-rays, another radioactive process.
I write upon the pieces, as these stories of loss and suffering must be told, to give voice to those who no longer can speak.