The Colors I Cannot Explain


The Colors I Cannot Explain (2014)
Two-Channel Video Installation – Channel One (The Hibakusha): 04:41 color/sound (Looped) / Channel Two (USSBS): 04:41 color/silent (Looped) + Wall Text

The two-channel video installation The Colors I Cannot Explain is part of my recent work critically examining of the history of nuclear weapons, and creating work based upon material sourced from public archives. In the installation, two screens loop archival footage of the aftermath of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. On one screen is footage of atomic survivors (the Hibakusha) with a repeated close-up of a survivor’s eyes, as well as details of documentation of survivor’s wounds. On the other screen is footage from the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), of a man from the US Military standing in the rubble of Hiroshima pointing at the ground. This footage repeats as the man looks up and down, and the color of this footage shifts several times as the loop cycles. The audio within the installation is the ambient wind and the alarm vocalizations of the Japanese red-crowned crane. Wall text in the installation states:

I saw a bright blast, and I saw yellow and silver and orange and all sorts of colors that I can’t explain. Those colors came and attacked us, and the ceiling beams of the wooden school along with the glass from the window shattered and blew away all at once.

-Michiko Kodoma
(A Seven Year Old Survivor of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima)

Within the installation the viewer becomes positioned between the documentation of the aftermath, and facing the witnesses of the attack, when confronted with the eyes of the survivors.

The Colors I Cannot Explain – Channel One (The Hibakusha)

The Colors I Cannot Explain – Channel Two (USSBS)

Click for The Colors I Cannot Explain – Exhibition Fact Sheet (PDF)

Click for The Colors I Cannot Explain (2015 Exhibition Poster) (PDF)