Monday 26 December 2022

Picture Post #41 The Aesthetics of Destruction

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be
neither will they become what they might appear to become.'


Posted by Martin Cohen


Herald Weekly image of a store in Fukushima sometime after the nuclear reactor there partially exploded. 
I think the next Picture Post should be from Ukraine, where there are so many scenes of urban destruction that are at once both tragic and appalling – yet also somehow (like this scene) somehow rather calming. These are postcards from a post-apocalyptic future, words of chaos that humanity can only briefly put off.

But about this scene, in particular, which has the quality of a paper seascape, the waves created by the numerous documents and papers thrown onto the floor. Or, writing just after Christmas, it might remind some people of the detritus left after an extravagant present–giving ceremony where the parcels and wrapping paper are all that remain. 

It is not on a huge scale, this destruction, we could imagine being tasked with cleaning it up. But it’s not the kind of mess that we come across every day either.


Keith said...

Here’s how I see the key distinction between the ‘urban destruction’ happening in Ukraine and the ‘urban destruction’ that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear-power site in Japan: The cause of the former (Ukraine) has been the product of brutishly malign intent, whereas the latter (Fukushima) was the product of unintentional poor decision-making in such critical areas as design engineering, vulnerability to disastrous natural events, and the siting of nuclear power plants. The cost of ‘cleanup’ dramatically differs, too: from the eventually eye-watering trillions of dollars in Ukraine to the billions in Fukushima.

Martin Cohen said...

Yes, of course this is true, Keith. But what I was getting at really was that (say) aerial or drone photographs of destroyed cities can have a strange aesthetic. The suffering is implied but somehow pushed aside. That is, particularly, when there are no people in the scene. As here.

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