This illustrated presentation and panel discussion of artists’ works highlights the impact of contemporary Japanese art since 2011, in relation to international discourse on deep time and the nuclear Anthropocene. ‘Deep time’ refers to geologic time – a scale of time vastly greater than the scale of human time. In the geological timescale, the Anthropocene is the most recent period of the Earth’s history in which human activity has become the dominant influence on the climate and environment. The Anthropocene is a crucial area of research within the social sciences and the humanities, because it highlights the significance of climate change and generates critical engagement with the evolution of nuclear energy production.
Around the world artists are making works that engage with these conversations, allowing us to consider deep time in relation to immediate human experiences. Artists in Japan are particularly sensitive to nuclear events, not only responding to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also to the way in which Japan has embraced atomic energy production. Following the detonation of the first nuclear bomb in 1945, which hailed the Atomic Age, ‘the nuclear’ proliferated throughout science, popular culture and art – especially in the 1960s and 70s. Although often represented positively, ambivalence towards nuclear power and weapons systems has persisted.
The nuclear disaster in Fukushima acted as a game changer, provoking powerful responses within the cultural sector. Artists, writers and filmmakers continue to address nuclear energy issues and to intensify the politicization of art. These interventions generate important questions about deep time and the nuclear Anthropocene, not just in Japan, but globally.
This event is coordinated by Art Action UK in association with Arts Catalyst.
Art Action UK is a collective that explores ways we can show solidarity and support for people who have been affected by natural and manmade disasters. It hosts an annual respite residency for artists who live and work in areas affected by disasters. Arts Catalyst is an arts organisation that commissions art that experimentally and critically engages with science.
Image: © Kyun-Chome