Nagatani's surreal Polaroid photocollages create a jarring contrast between the ancient traditions of the people most affected by nuclear technology - the Japanese and the native peoples of the SW US test sites - and the Bomb itself. The saturated-color Pop images are poignant, silent, and powerful. A unique treatment of the human shadow in the nuclear age.
I have heard that Nagatani is the son of Manzanar detainees, and the figures in the photographs of happy Japanese-American families at places in the land of enchantment (it says that on the New Mexico license plates) like Radium Springs make the direct connection between the Japanese victims of the atomic bombs and the uncounted others here in New Mexico, whole communities of whom (Socorro, San Antonio) were never warned of atomic fallout nor indeed of the 1945 test explosion itself.
The opera Dr. Atomic makes the native American connection a decade after Nagatani did -- they too being ghosts of a genocide -- with a native (Kewa, I believe) mezzo soprano singing eulogies on the eve of the test explosion at the Trinity site.
Much of modern harajuku fashion and manga and anime iconography in Japan is based on the Japanese being, with New Mexicans, the only atomic peoples -- from Godzilla to radioactive-symbol t shirts worn with samurai warrior kilts to Barefoot Gen, the original atomic comic. It is interesting to see the techniques used by a Japanese American to manipulate the colors and the images, very much in the grand tradition of sublime Japanese graphics.
The photographs are very beautiful and very creepy. The placement of Japanese and native American people in the landscapes of atomic warfare is an important way of honoring the ghosts and I appreciate it.
It's polemic without being unartistic. Because all those bombs and bombers are....beautiful, may God forgive us.