“1945-1998″: Nuclear Bomb Detonations (Isao Hashimoto)

What It Shows

This infographic, with sound and visuals, presents the detonation of nuclear bombs around the world from 1945 to 1998. The first blip is the Manhattan Project‘s test, and the next two are Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every video second represents a month in the historical timeline. The sounds indicate which country is responsible for the test.

Why It’s Good

First, it’s nice to see infographics made by an artist to send a message, and not by a company to promote a website. I have no problem with the latter, but I like the purity of this as an artistic project.

I love the universality of it. The video is non-linguistic, and as such is understandable to a massive global audience.

The old school number style and the sounds are interesting. I find them fun as they remind me of Intellivision games, functional as they are simple, and relevant as their carry a certain historicity. I also somehow find the sounds chilling in the context.

The information in this video could have (and has) been presented in a static way, but creating a video was an excellent choice. It’s very different to experience historical data across time, rather than, for example, seeing a list of years and and working it out mentally.

What It’s Missing

While I love the idea of the buildup from the slow early days to frantic nuclear fever, and appreciate for clarity’s sake the uniformity of the 1 second = 1 month presentation, the beginning is just so slow going. I imagine many people get bored and skip ahead. I am hesitant to really consider this a criticism, since I think 15 minutes spent contemplating the gravity of nuclear weapons isn’t time poorly spent, and since there is value in the sporadic to concentrated contrast, but man is that beginning part slow. One comment on the condensed YouTube version, while appreciating the work, likened it to watching paint dry, and I can see the connection.

The video does not really distinguish attack from test, but I think for consistency’s sake and for reinforcing the idea that testing is a mark of danger, keeping the uniformity of blips was a fine call.

This infographic was found on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) website here.