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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Hashimoto’s Visual History of the Nuclear Era

by | September 2nd, 2013 | 07:03 am

We originally meant to run this clip earlier in the month to coincide with the anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings and the close of World War II, but between Kaesong, tech news, and two posts on Japan’s nuclear past, it proved to be a very busy week.

Isao Hashimoto, a Japanese forex-trader-turned-artist, has put together a time lapse of every nuclear detonation from 1945 to 1998. The piece poses no language or cultural barriers, representing global nuclear proliferation purely by means of numbers, national flags, and perversely soothing symphonic blips on a map.

The video is long, but I recommend plugging in for the entire show to let it wash over you. If you’ve got a Labor Day barbecue to run to, begin with the first 45 seconds and then skip to around 4:43 (Sept. 1961) to see the vast, vast difference 15 years can make in the world’s nuclear history. Among the highlights: the dominance of American testing during the height of the Cold War; the coming of the Chinese; African and South Pacific tests by the British and French; and the entry of the Indians and Pakistanis.

A little more about this work and the artist can be found here.  As the piece only runs to 1998, we do not see North Korea’s additions to this dark melody in 2006, 2009 and 2013.