There are plenty of (bad) ways to visualize nuclear atrocity, but when Pentagram designer Harry Pearce was asked to design a poster for a new exhibition about the legacy of Hiroshima 70 years later, he decided to give it his all: his blood.
For his poster, Pearce was inspired by a visual he had previously explored in another project: the memorable image of a drop of ink slowly diffusing its pigment through water. “I was looking at ink drops underwater, for a completely different project, and when I turned the picture upside down I saw the mushroom cloud,” Pearce says.
After being approached by the University of Maryland Art Gallery to design a poster for an upcoming exhibition exploring the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pearce decided to embrace this idea, replacing Noodler’s Ink with a bright ruby drop of hemoglobin to create a bloody, ghostly simulacrum of a nuclear cloud.
To create the poster, Peace teamed up with photographer Richard Foster; the two worked together to experiment with the perfect blend of blood, ink, water temperatures, and drop heights to attain the finished image. Although the duo took hundreds of photographs, it was the very last image on the very last day of shooting that made it on the finished poster.
The finished poster bears the title It’s All Our Blood, and for good reason, Pearce says.
“The title comes from my belief that what we do to others we are really doing to ourselves, and Damocles’ Sword still hangs firmly over all our heads,” he says. “I used my own blood to illustrate that in the end all our blood was symbolically spilt that day. We all still live under the cloud of what was done, and what could still be done, to us all. It’s a humble expression of empathy.”
The Questioning the Bomb Exhibition will open this fall at the University of Maryland.