Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by pavel_l., Aug 18, 2020.
... or commemoration of 75 years of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Thank you for your thoughts.
This seems to be a documentary series but your intro doesn't give me the kind of information that would be helpful here. What am I looking at and where is it? Is the title metaphorical or literal? Is this a constructed memorial, surviving remnants of the blasts, or just your interpretation of the effects of the events but with subject matter that's literally unrelated to it?
The photos are matter-of-fact, and there's potential in that approach. Missing for me is a larger sense of import, context, and both textual and visual narrative.
I really like these photos, @pavel_l. Thanks for sharing them. As is often the case, there's 'strength in numbers'. While each photo reminds us that everything - however solid - can be just ripped away, each photo is strengthened by being part of the series. They're all visually interesting in terms of form, tonal range and contrasts,
'Blown Away' is a wonderful title! If you need a subtitle, you might want to consider something more generic like "the power of destruction" or something similar. Something that includes Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also includes horrific events like 9/11 and the recent terrible explosion in Beirut. Up to you.
I'm not sure what opportunities you have to continue the project but to me, it seems well worthwhile.
Just some personal feedback: When I first looked at these photos, I was struck by the 'visual' qualities. But the longer I looked at them, the more the 'meaning' became apparent. I doubt whether this factory or warehouse was literally 'blown away' but the photo's are good metaphors for those buildings that really are.
Maybe you added the sub-title after Sam commented. With the sub-title, it's crystal clear to me what we're seeing. The stark, ordinary setting gives further power to this demonstration of the unconstrained power of the event this documents. As horrific as WWII was, this woke up our enemy and then the rest of the world.
No. The subtitle was there.
What are we seeing?
I'm seeing the power of an explosive force to mangle, twist and shatter strong structural material. I know this is "atomic power" from the description. Some of the 9/11 wreckage wasn't dissimilar, and that was not atomic, but I now know that the power demonstrated in this exhibit pales in comparison to current weapons. Near hit zones, current weapons would leave no trace.
I always wonder a bit about the psyche of the Japanese leadership at that time. Hundreds of thousands of citizens had already been killed with incendiary bombs prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and they had not reacted, other than to make plans for future incendiary attacks. I guess that they finally realized that one or two of these over Tokyo would wipe them out personally, along with their emperor, and easily destroy their largest city. These mangled remains had surely been witnessed in their other burned cities, but the knowledge that one bomb did this was what changed their minds, yet STILL requiring the second bomb on Nagasaki.
Yeah. I get that. Though I'm not seeing the power you are, I get that's the point of the photos. I'm seeing more of a statuesque/sculptural focus on subject and not seeing the power of an explosion. But that wasn't my question.
Here was my question ...
I'm not asking for interpretive help. I'm asking for factual information about the documentary being presented. Is it on site? Is it in Japan and are these actual remnants of the blasts that have been preserved? Or is it a constructed memorial of some sort? Or is it purely metaphorical, found somewhere, not a factual result of the blasts but just something that metaphorically works to suggest the atomic bombing?
Thank you Sam.
The is no any "documentary meaning" on this photos, just metaphorical connection. I went for photo walk in neighboring city and found abandoned factory with big space that was, probably, demolishing warehouse with these tore up beams scattered around.
Thanks for the explanation, Pavel.
Thank you Mike.
All possible subtitle you have mentioned may be applied.
I was pleasantly surprised how fp4+ has handled such a harsh light.
I glad you like them.
Thank you dcstep.
I agree that the culture of kamikaze in Japanese army and status of emperor at that time explains "slow" response to bombing.
There is still some debate about the need and justification for deploying atomic bombs against Japan in WWII. Especially the "big boy" type on Nagasaki just 3 days after Hiroshima. I'm not a historian but I read here and here that Japan was negotiating surrender in July, that the US knew that Japan would fold when Russia joined the war in the pacific in August and that it was the Russian invasion of Manchuria in August - and not the atomic bombs - that Ied Japan to agree to unconditional surrender.
One for the historians to figure out.
From what I read, a big part of the rush was to make sure that the Russians did not participate in the "victory." They were very close and would have been necessary allies, had there been a ground attack. Many doubt that the Japanese would have "folded" before total defeat. Certainly, another 500,000 to 1,000,000+ Japanese would have died, given the rate of death prior to "Little Boy" and "Fat Man." Who knows about Allied deaths. The numbers are staggering, but then the tens of millions of deaths in Europe and Russia make those numbers pale.
The incendiary bombs had already killed over 500,000 mostly civilians. My youngest daughter spoke with a Hiroshima survivor (she was offered a job by JET to teach English to Japanese), who was 12 at the time of the bombing. He survived because he was "farming" on that day. They rotated him and other children between farming and tearing down ever other street of houses, in hopes that would prevent the fires from jumping from street to street and destroying a town completely, after a few tons of incendiaries had been dropped. He had no weapon, but had been told not to surrender, but to "give his life for the Emperor" when the Allies landed.
It's probably worth pointing out that the latter part of the (non-photographic) discussion comes about because of a title unrelated to the photos. That, in itself, is rather interesting ... photographically and textually speaking and might actually be something to consider discussing. But, I digress!
Yes, i agree, I was surprised to learn that the materials were unrelated to the title. The chain link fence did look to me like it was in Kansas, not Hiroshima, but I guessed that chain-link is universal. Steel-frame buildings falling down, do twist very strong structural metal; hence, my reference to 9/11 images. My mind then leaped to modern atomic weapons, which would vaporize these metals. Without the title, I would have made none of those connections.
Pavel, do you know, did the artist that prepared the display intend this to be a Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorial?
In a critique setting, a title like Pavel chose may be percieved as a way to telescope intent. I find it useful to hear the photographers intent. here. The hackneyed phrase 'a good photograph shows the photographers intent' has a place in forming a focused critique, assessment.
I was also curious to the question.s posed and answered about the title. Knowing the intent of a photographer flavors my response.
Before knowing Pavels answer I simply liked the first photo as a stand alone. Gut.
Thinking if there was a literal document being presented I liked the series. but wanted more context.
Although I can see the suggestion it does not communicate bombing,s effectively. It reads generic not specific. Like the aftermath of destruction. & then limbo.
Perhaps if it were processed in a Japanese style that emerged and took hold of many photographers postwar (or your take on it) I would find it very effective as a series congruent with the title, subtitle, intent.
I don't think it was an art installation.
It breaks my heart that so many civilians and members of the armed forces gave their lives - willingly or unwillingly - in times of war. On both sides of any conflict. Most civilians are simply 'casualties and victims' of war (bombing, executions, drone attacks, starvation, etc.). Others civilians willingly risk their lives as medics, ambulance drivers, aid workers, photographers, etc. The armed forces members include WW1 soldiers who received "over the top'" orders which meant almost certain death, the WWII soldiers who ran into machine-gun fire to establish a beachhead in France, the Vietnam Vets who fought (pointlessly in places like 'Hamburger Hill", etc. I've left out the Korean war because I don't know much about it.
I truly pray that countries and groups have the willingness and can find a way of resolving differences without resorting to armed conflict. Unfortunately, our history suggests otherwise. Parents often step in at certain moment in a conflict between siblings. In the sense of "OK, this has gone on long enough. You're not listening or talking to each other. Let's unpeel what the dispute is about and how we could together deal with this". It wou;d be great if the UN took on this role.
Thank you inoneeye.
The images of violently bent steel are not explicit but metaphorical connection between these photos and consequences of destruction.
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