What can photographs reveal about Canada’s nuclear footprint? The Bomb in the Wilderness contends that photography is central to how we interpret and remember nuclear activities. The impact and global reach of Canada’s nuclear programs have been felt ever since the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. But do photographs alert viewers to nuclear threat, numb them to its dangers, or actually do both? John O’Brian’s wide-ranging and personal account of the nuclear era presents and discusses over a hundred photographs, ranging from military images to the atomic ephemera of consumer culture. His fascinating analysis ensures that we do not look away.
John O’Brian is an art historian, writer, and curator. Until 2017, he taught at the University of British Columbia. He has authored or edited twenty books, including Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism – one of The New York Times Notable Books of the Year – and Ruthless Hedonism. His publications on nuclear photography include Strangelove’s Weegee, Camera Atomica, Through Post-Atomic Eyes, and Atomic Postcards: Radioactive Messages from the Cold War. He has organized five exhibitions on nuclear photography, in Copenhagen, London, Toronto, and Vancouver, and is a recipient of the Thakore Award in Human Rights and Peace Studies from Simon Fraser University.
Art historian O’Brian has brought together all his powers of observation and perception to help us rethink how we view the history and the mystery of the bomb.