‘Nuclear’: Creative Arts Exposing Humanitarian Impacts of the Atomic Bomb, using immersive digital projections

Paul Frederick Brown, University of New South Wales

Sydney 2018: Issues, people and publics

Community arts company Alphaville facilitated a program with communities that have experienced the atomic bomb. Involving over 50 creative artists – we produced a multi-arts showcase to present stories of atomic survivors – indigenous communities, service personnel and civilian workers who have been directly affected by atomic testing.

Central to the project are two immersive projections:

  • ‘Ngurini’ (searching) explores the forced relocation and intergenerational response of Pitjantjatjara Anangu after Britain’s atomic testing at Maralinga in South Australia, based on family stories from Yalata and other communities near Maralinga.
  • ’10 Minutes to Midnight’ is the culmination of a partnership with Australian and UK nuclear veteran communities, and the Imperial War Museum. It re-imagines the Maralinga experiments using archival material and surround sound.

The work presents our discoveries about the nuclear age, and fits within a long tradition of artists and communities responding to ‘the bomb’. It explores the roles of scientists and the humanitarian, health and environmental problems associated with the nuclear industry. It examines ‘unruly’ elements of 1950s bomb tests and the ongoing experimentation that plays out in the changed lives and health conditions of indigenous communities, military participants and their descendants.  The work also explores the creation of contextual knowledge from the deserts of South Australia, and the hybrid forms of knowledge arising from collaborations between artists, scientists and communities. Evolving alongside the recent South Australian Royal Commission into nuclear industry, the project keeps alive stories of Cold War nuclear experimentation as nuclear technologies gain heightened public focus.