November 15 – December 13, 2014
Peter Brown Leighton: “Man Lives Through Plutonium Blast”
When I was seven years old, my mother dropped my brother and I off at a movie theater on a summer afternoon to see “The Amazing Colossal Man”, one of many cheaply made science fiction movies that seemed to be released on a weekly basis during the 1950s.
It was a film about a soldier accidentally exposed to an atomic blast at a nuclear testing ground in Nevada. The cells making up the soldier’s body, instead of dying from exposure to radiation, began to replicate at an astonishing rate. He grew to be sixty feet tall, went insane and laid waste to Las Vegas – all before a battalion of U.S. Military dispatched him during a showdown at the Hoover Dam.
If ever there were a film crafted to stir the mind of a seven year-old boy in the cultural mix of the time, this one was it. I have never forgotten how sublimely preposterous and, at the same time, profoundly strange this film was.
The imaginary vernacular images in the series, “Man Lives Through Plutonium Blast”, have been rendered in this spirit, appropriating the bits and pieces of discarded analog photographs for material, while conceptually focusing scrutiny on the idea that so many events in our lives seem to happen just beyond our ability to comprehend. These are images then that draw us in via a common photographic format, familiar to one and all, only to challenge us in the end to question lingering assumptions about the nature of photography and the distinctions that exist in art between fact and fiction.