Susanna Hertrich

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns

Uniform, device and video (2016)

Installation: An armour to detect nuclear radiation interpreted as contemporary samurai gear with a short film shot in Fukushima prefecture in Japan in May 2016.

This project could be regarded as a contemporary pilgrimage. Susanna Hertrich went to Fukushima in May 2016 and along with her, she brought a uniform and device. The uniform resembles a typical worker’s outfit, as well as showing similarities to traditional samurai gear. Elements of this uniform contain technologies that detect the ubiquitous ambient nuclear radiation: A Geiger-Counter-Kit inside the device reads radiation levels and sends the data to the helmet. When a positive reading is registered (= radiation is detected) an ornament on the helmet lights up. Both items serve as props for a short film of roughly 15 minutes duration that was shot in the coastal areas of Fukushima prefecture. The film shows a young man who explores the desolate landscapes and abandoned ghost towns near the nuclear power stations (the town Namie was only reopened to the public in April 2016). He wears the aforementioned uniform and carries the named device to scan the ground. Almost, as if his body was possessed by an unnatural force, ambient radioactivity appears as an illumination of his helmet to the outside world.

The video is filmed in a neutral observing angle, mostly with a fixed camera in long shot, hinting to the wide angle landscape scenes in Hokusai's famous wood block prints, as well as quoting Akira Kurosawa's steady and slow camera as used in his samurai movies.

BRIGHTER THAN A THOUSAND SUNS | Trailer from susanna hertrich on Vimeo.

— Thanks —

This project would not have been possible without advice and support of Japanese-Canadian artist Daisuke Takeya. Technical support and development by Akitoshi Honda. Created with help from Schader Stiftung and Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. Great thank you to Yuu Takahashi for being a perfect samurai, to Yukiko Sato for organisation and support during the travels and Tobias Schneider for his excellent camera work. I also thank Shintaro Miyazaki for his advice, Rico Kurihara and Hiroshi Fukuda for their support in Tokyo, Mauro Tamaro and Kurt Küng for their help with building parts of the device in Basel.