Notes - Bikini Atoll / by Roland Dahwen Wu

«Forgetting the extermination is part of the extermination itself»

I read once—I don't recall where—that an atomic test in the southwestern United States turned the desert sand into glass. This glassy residue was named Trinitite, an ignoble commemoration of the Trinity nuclear bomb test. The memory of this image led me to research other nuclear tests in the South Pacific—no less terrible or astounding—and I came across archival footage of the tests, released by the U.S. government. With this footage, I've been working on a short form video: BIKINI ATOLL. My goal is to expand this material to a layered, multi-screen installation.

UNESCO provides us with this information about the tests:

In the wake of World War II, in a move closely related to the beginnings of the Cold War, the United States of America decided to resume nuclear testing. They choose Bikini Atoll in the Marshall archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. After the displacement of the local inhabitants, 23 nuclear tests were carried out from 1946 to 1958,. The cumulative force of the tests in all of the Marshall Islands was equivalent to 7,000 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. Following the use of nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Bikini tests confirmed that mankind was entering a “nuclear era”. The many military remains bear witness to the beginnings of the Cold War, the race to develop weapons of mass destruction and a geopolitical balance based on terror.
The violence exerted on the natural, geophysical and living elements by nuclear weapons illustrates the relationship which can develop between man and the environment. This is reflected in the ecosystems and the terrestrial, marine and underwater landscapes of Bikini Atoll.
The nuclear tests changed the history of Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands, through the displacement of inhabitants, and the human irradiation and contamination caused by radionuclides produced by the tests.