The deadly attraction of working in secret to document early nuclear weapons tests

Akira ‘George’ Yoshitake (1929-2013) was a Japanese-American who was interned in the United States during the Second World War. He was also the last survivor of the secret civilian camera crew who filmed the US nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and the Pacific in the 1950s. The experimental short video Icarus pairs audio from an interview with Yoshitake with an abstract animation that becomes larger and seemingly moves closer as he describes experiencing the immense heat and power of the blasts. For the Barcelona-based director César Pesquera: ‘Icarus is a film about the fascination of looking, the greedy impulse of capturing images, the essence of filmmaking itself… The film also tells us about the risk of going too far, getting too close…’ While Yoshitake was aware that proximity to the nuclear explosions might have adverse health effects, he didn’t think of the work as deadly, as it would prove to be so for many of his colleagues.

Director: César Pesquera

Producer: Story:

Animator: Physalia Studio

Support Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Video/History of Technology

In the Dutch lowlands, keeping a windmill running is an act of cultural preservation

4 minutes

Idea/Internet & Communication

What happened when I made my students turn off their phones

Joelle Renstrom

24 hrs in Photos in which he exhibited 24 hours worth of photos uploaded to Flickr. Photo by Boris Horvat/Getty.' class='responsive-image' height='50' layout='fill' src='https://nu.aeon.co/images/c3387d23-0e98-47f5-ae7d-16b3c6d89525/header_fickr-v2-essay-172096999_master.jpg' width='400'>
Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

Art by algorithm

From book critiques to music choices, computation is changing aesthetics. Does increasingly average perfection lie ahead?

Ed Finn

Video/Future of Technology

As reality and CGI become indistinguishable, we need guidance from those at art’s frontiers

15 minutes

Essay/Data & Information

The bit bomb

It took a polymath to pin down the true nature of ‘information’. His answer was both a revelation and a return

Rob Goodman Jimmy Soni

Idea/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

Quantum cryptography is unbreakable. So is human ingenuity

Joshua Holden