Creative Sensemaker

A man and a woman in vintage dress in a summer day.

The latest instalment of Creative Sensemaker, a cultural series by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency

By Peter Hoskin   Above image: Agnes Varda (Alamy)    Friday 7 August, 2020    Long read

Welcome to the latest Creative Sensemaker from Tortoise Media. This week, we begin with a quotation: ‘My surroundings turned blindingly white, like a million camera flashes going off at once.’

Those are the words that appear on screen at the start of Es Devlin and Machiko Weston’s new video artwork ‘I Saw The World End’, and then they are spoken. This is not some science fiction – it is the testimony of someone who survived the atomic bomb blast on Nagasaki. More testimonies follow across the video’s 10-minute running time. It is suffocating.

The artwork was commissioned by London’s Imperial War Museum to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, on 9 August 1945, and also that of Hiroshima, three days before. It’s thought that at least 100,000 people died in the immediate blasts, with thousands more following in the days, months and years after. Th