The “Atomic Bomb” folder isn’t the thickest in the SVA Pictures Collection (there are only about 25 images), but it nevertheless contains a broad selection of pictures, offering a wide range of visual associations for one of humankind’s most horrifying creations. The folder is a particularly interesting peruse in 2017 - the Cold War, the age of the atomic bomb, feels simultaneously distant and disturbingly close. The folder contains a multitude of visual perspectives on the bomb - demonstrating the pervasiveness of its mythology in the period following the Second World War. The folder features everything from pictures of the men who dropped the H-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to references to the victims and survivors to test-runs in tropical landscapes to kitted-out 1950s fallout shelters. It intersperses images of survival with violence, and of paranoia with destruction, in the same way that these elements are complexly intertwined in reality - in particular within the context of warfare. Above all, the folder’s diversity of imagery elucidates the potency of the atomic bomb as both a symbol and a reality.
Top: father helps his daughter into a bomb shelter. Bottom: a family convenes inside a bomb shelter.
"Package Shelter" designed by Walter Kidde Nuclear Laboratories Inc.
An atomic bomb test in the water just offshore in Bikini.
Atomic bomb test, Bikini, July 1946
An ad for an atomic bomb shelter.
View from above of the Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile.
Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile, Kansas, 1963
An atomic bomb explodes in darkness.
A family sits together in a bomb shelter.