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Knoxville Museum of Art Presents Images of Nuclear Explosions
OAK, 8.9 megatons, Enewetak Atoll, 1958, digital image© 2003, 100 SUNS/Michael Light; courtesy of Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco.

KNOXVILLE, TN.- The Knoxville Museum of Art presents Michael Light: 100 SUNS, January 18 through June 1, 2008, which documents the destructive force unleashed during nuclear tests conducted by the United States following World War II. The photographs are both terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

Light, a San Francisco-based photographer, achieved international attention for his large-scale photographic projects examining humanity’s relationship with its environment. For 100 SUNS, Light used digital software to scan or re-photograph rare images he hand-picked from the archives of the U. S. National Archives and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In many cases he was able to use digital software to restore something of the original intensity of color prints faded by time. The haunting images Light has assembled depict tests at or shortly after the moment of explosion. In some shocking pictures, human beings share the frame with the fireworks. In one image, troops huddle in trenches as they are showered by sparks from the detonation of a 1953 Nevada blast referred to as “Simon.” Light’s commentary adds a chilling note describing the next few moments when the "ground and air shockwaves will toss them like dolls, then fill their mouths with radioactive dust."

Above all, 100 SUNS demonstrates Light’s ability to select and manipulate familiar images of atomic blasts and present them as icons of political power that are at once repulsive and seductive.

The museum will host an exhibition preview and reception Thursday, January 17 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. There will be a gallery talk with the artist at 6pm. The event is free for KMA members and $5 for non-members.

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