‘Fading Lights’ brings atomic bombings into focus

August 4, 2015

Dr Stuart Bender and A/Prof Mick Broderick in front of the 4-metre diameter HIVe “dome” screen. Photographer: Sam Proctor - Curtin University

Researchers from Curtin and Murdoch universities have used digital technologies to reveal forgotten histories of Australian military experiences in Japan during and after World War II.

This year marks the centenary of the ANZAC commemoration and also the 70th anniversary of the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of the Pacific war.

The multimedia exhibition, Fading Lights: Australian POWs and BCOF Troops in Japan 1945-52, showcases the post war occupation of Japan and the places where Australian troops witnessed and survived the atom bombing of Nagasaki.

The places include two former POW (Prisoner of War) camps in Nagasaki where Australian and other Allied POWs worked as slave labourers in Japanese war industries.

Dr Stuart Bender, Curtin University and Associate Professor Mick Broderick, Murdoch University recorded numerous interviews and filmed at key locations in Japan earlier this year.

Dr Bender explained that he and Professor Broderick wanted the exhibition to be impressionistic and take advantage of the HIVe’s immersive space.

“The use of the imaging technologies in Curtin’s Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch (HIVe) enables a unique opportunity to convey a sense of place and space, where testimony can interact with archival and contemporary images and sound, remaining factual and historically accurate,” he said.

Professor Broderick said it took considerable time to definitively establish the locations of many major sites.

“We had to match and duplicate the camera angles, creating a ‘then and now’ effect by contrasting the past images with the current day scenes,” he explained.

The exhibition and associated website (www.fadinglights.com.au) features free downloadable panoramas of Hiroshima’s iconic Genbaku Dome, the only remaining building to have been preserved, more or less untouched, since the 6 August 1945 atomic attack.

Dr Bender and Professor Broderick were granted special access to film inside of this United Nations World Heritage protected space and have made a selection of their 360 degree panoramic images available to the public.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to the city of Hiroshima for their assistance in this project,” Professor Broderick said.

“It also helps to commemorate the memories of bomb survivors and the thousands of Australian troops, some of whom were accompanied by their wives and children while serving in the Hiroshima Prefecture during 1946-52,” Dr Bender added.

“At one site in Nagasaki now a junior high school that occupies the former camp grounds, locals are planning to erect a monument to all deceased POWs, including six Australians who died in captivity,” Professor Broderick said.

The free public exhibition runs from Thursday 6 August to Sunday 9 August 2015 and the John Curtin Gallery, Building 200A, Curtin University, Bentley.

Exhibition hours are:

Thursday 6 August: 6pm – 7.30pm (Reservations essential, please contact events@curtin.edu.au)

Friday 7 August: 5pm – 8pm

Saturday 8 August: 9am – 3pm

Sunday 9 August: 1pm – 5pm

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