Design Observer on Hiroshima, Photography and Censorship

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Hiroshima, photographer unknown, 1945, via International Center of Photography


Earlier this month The Design Observer Group commemorated the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima by republishing the following essay by Adam Harrison Levy along with a new collection of photographs of the city following its obliteration by atomic bomb. The photographs are from a collection of 700 images by an unknown photographer that were literally found in the trash in the late ’90s by some guy out walking his dog in the rain. What’s particularly interesting about these images is the U.S.’ suppression of such documentation:

Thirty-one days after the blast, a team of U.S. scientists flew over the city. “There was just one enormous, flat, rust-red scar, and no green or grey” Philip Morrison told The New Yorker in 1946, “because there were no roofs or vegetation left. I was pretty sure then that nothing I was going to see later would give me as much of a jolt.”

The world has very few photographs of what gave Morrison that unforgettable jolt. This is no accident. On September 18, 1945, just over a month after Japan had surrendered, the U.S. Government imposed a strict code of censorship on the newly defeated nation. It read, in part: “nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility.”

The U.S. government was ostensibly wary of the emotions of grief and anger that could be unleashed in Japan as a result of the circulation of images of the destroyed city; it was probably just as concerned to keep the physical effects of its new and terrible weapon a secret. But this suppression of visual evidence served a third purpose: it helped, both in Japan and back home in America, to inhibit any questioning of the decision to use the bomb in the first place.

Find the whole essay, along with a slideshow of these photos at The Design Observer Group. (via Conscientious)

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint — JACOB RIIS

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May 26 — JACOB RIIS
Compassionate photographer, champion of the poor.
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Riis’ Sleeping Children

MAY 26, 2009 HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
*Feast of VooDoo Economics.

ALSO ON MAY 26 IN HISTORY…
1799 — Black Russian poet Alexander S. Pushkin born.
1895 — Socially-aware photographer Dorothea Lange born, Hoboken, New Jersey.
1914 — Social realist photographer Jacob Riis dies, Barre, Massachusetts.
1976 — Nazi sympathizer and philosopher Martin Heidegger dies.
1977 — George Willig climbs World Trade Center, New York City.

Excerpted from The 2009 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium by James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

May 10th – Book Launch for Michael Schmelling's "The Plan" at FAMILY in Los Angeles, CA

All over New York City, often hidden in tiny rent-controlled apartments that have survived many waves of gentrification in their surrounding neighborhoods, there are slightly delusional (and perhaps even secretly brilliant) artists, writers, and recluses of all kinds who to this day are continuing to hoard their precious manuscripts, newspapers, records, memorabilia, and artwork that nobody’s ever seen.

Only a privileged few gain access to these dwellings, which are in themselves mini-worlds; each of these apartments is like a museum, devoted exclusively to the compulsive collecting habits of its owner. It’s no shock that there is a New York-based company, Disaster Masters, that finds these compulsive hoarders, counsels them and helps them to clean up their apartments (Sidenote: did you know that in Japan there are similar companies that try to coax teenage boys into leaving their rooms? Read about it here.)

Between 2003 and 2005, photographer Michael Schmelling accompanied Disaster Masters to 12 different apartments, making it his prerogative to document each apartment pre-cleanup, while it was still in its most natural, chaotic state. The result is The Plan, a 576-page book, featuring 490 black and white photographs, with an entire chapter dedicated to each home.

Thanks to Schmelling, these remnants of New York history are now preserved for us all to see. Come take a look at what he’s captured at Family’s book launch for The Plan, where Schmelling will discuss his work, accompanied by a slide show, question-and-answer session, and book signing at the end.

Sunday, May 10th, 7:30pm
FAMILY
436 N. Fairfax Ave. / Los Angeles, CA 90036
Free admission

For more info, visit http://www.familylosangeles.com/

DAILY MAGPIE – Feb. 5 – Mark Ruwedel, Westward the Course of Empire

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Opening reception, Thursday Feb 5th, 6:00-8:00pm, free

Mark Ruwedel’s new exhibition Onward the Course of Empire opens Thursday at the Yossi Milo Gallery, 525 W. 25th St in New York City.  Ruwedel photographs abandoned 19th and 20th century railway lines in The United States and Canada.  Ruwedel’s gelatin silver prints bear witness to the grown-over traces of North America’s railway past.

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New photographs from contributing editor Chamberlin

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Photos from your contributing editor’s show at Art Center College of Design, “Light Pollution Series One: Artifical Night Lighting and Photosynthetic Organisms“:

Urban outdoor lighting produces enough spectral pollution to turn the city’s night sky into an orange-grey dome, smudging out all but the brightest stars. Of the myriad organisms affected by humanity’s colonization of the darkness by way of electromagnetic radiation, plants are of particular interest. Plant life cycles revolve according to their light environment: Photoreceptors tell them when to extend stems or broaden leaves; when to germinate and when to die.

These images are an examination of photosynthetic organisms as painted with the palette of artificial night lighting. The viewer’s attention is drawn away from the horizon — where the natural light has disappeared — to emphasize the industrial lighting on the organic textures. Tree limbs are framed against the night sky, nebulous clouds of leaves reflecting the glare of sodium vapor security lamps; groundcover is shot from directly above, micro-landscapes rendered in the orange halide tones of residential streetlights.

All of these images were made after civil twilight — when the sun is six degrees below the horizon — using available light with exposures from 20 to 696 seconds.

See the whole series at Into The Green.

DAILY MAGPIE – January 15- February 13 – Christopher Miner

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Take the Christian anthem Via Dolorosa made popular by Sandi Patti in the late 80’s, this dude in drag dressed Dana Carvey Church lady-style singing with the tune in eerily good falsetto, and put his lifeless, singing body in front of an alter with…  I think I may have said too much.  Some of the photos have an Eggleston quality to them- great Americana color photography depicting the (mostly white) common man/woman/family.  Miner adds extra irony and humor in his photos and video installtions, and with this show Easter for the Birds, a re-born Christian twist.  Good Goddamn.

Date and Time:  Opening Reception January 15 6-8

Venue:  Mitchell-Innes and Nash Chelsea

Address:  534 West 26th Street 

Price:  Free