• Screening
  • Arts Catalyst
  • 2017

Fukushima and Visual Inquiry

Reflecting on the concept of seeing in response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Rouy depicts both Fukushima and nuclear power as being at once invisible and ultra-visible, caught up in a dialectic opposition between the unseen force of radiation and its devastating potential. He raises important questions about societal doubt and denial, public information and governmental accountability. Exploring different notions of vision – from experimenting with the cinematographic medium and utilising surveillance camera footage, to studying the blinding effects of radiation upon the naked eye – Rouy offers a profound examination of the Fukushima disaster and of the subsequent inquiry that has accompanied the aftermath, as well as the on-going activism and atonement surrounding the event. Addressing questions of perception, these two films blur the distinction between what we want to see, what we have a right to see and what we are able to see. Thursday 13 July 6.30pm - 8.30pm Followed by conversation and Q and A with The Otolith Collective and curator Jason Waite. 4 Buildings Facing The Sea (2012) approx. 47 min In June 2011, three months following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Meltdown, the operator of the nuclear power plant installed a live-cam on site. These recordings from the surveillance camera are available on the TEPCO website. In a single, uninterrupted shot we witness a lethal landscape of paradoxical beauty: earthquakes, enveloping mists, reactor smoke, radioactive rains and more. Philippe Rouy uses the total transparency of the footage to reveal the irreversible destruction of a landscape, brought about by man-made error. Machine to Machine (2013) approx. 32 min Machine to Machine uses images collected by robots that were sent inside the damaged reactors. The film employs sharp, pendular movements and rigorously technological angles in order to emphasise the distancing of human presence from the site of the disaster, narrating the transformation of a recognisable landscape to one of unnatural imaginings. In exploring a space that is inaccessible to humans, the film questions our relationship with nuclear energy and the point at which visual inquiry simply fails.

£5 per person. Limited availability, book here

Friday 14 July 6.00pm

The third film in Rouy's Fukushima trilogy, Fovea Centralis, will be shown the following evening at 6pm on Friday 14 July, the penultimate day of our current exhibition, Real Lives Half Lives: Fukushima. Entry is free, no need to book!

Fovea Centralis (2014), approx. 50 mins 'Fovea Centralis' is a small depression or pit located in the centre of the macula lutea of the retina. It is the focal point of the retina and allows clear vision within a limited field. Fovea Centralis uses images from a videoconference held by TEPCO that were only released after the media and politicians put extensive pressure on the company. The recordings are impaired by blurred faces and censored words; through this distortion of medium, what we see is rendered almost illogical. In order to emphasize this active disruption of visual clarity Rouy incorporates different aspects of human sight: scientifically proven effects of radiation on the human eye; artistic interpretations of the cinematographic medium and the ways in which light can both conceal and expose meaning. In this way, Rouy displaces our easy relationship with vision in order to provoke more profound questions concerning not only the physical impacts of radiation on human vision, but around shedding light on hitherto unseen governmental agendas and ‘depressed’ political concerns.


Biography Philippe Rouy is a filmmaker who lives and works in Paris. Primarily a video artist, his filmography expands to include documentary and essay films. His work has been shown at a variety of international film festivals, such as the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Festival International de Cinéma Marseille.