20. Times Square Midnight Moment

August Times Square Midnight Moment screenshotCourtesy of 13BC

Every night at midnight this August the screens in Times Square will be taken over by a video project from the collective 13BC. Titled When Horses Were Coconuts, the project considers the ongoing legacy of the atomic bomb and the inextricable histories of warfare, mass-media spectacle, pollution, and public memory. It was inspired by actual footage of a bomb test from 1951 and the sound that accompanied it.

When CBS News captured film footage of an atomic bomb test in Frenchman Flat, Nevada, they didn’t capture adequate sound. Foley artist Robert L. Mott had to fabricate the noise from the bomb. He sourced an audio recording of a waterfall from the CBS sound library and remixed it backward and slowed down. When Horses Were Coconuts reimagines those sights and sounds. The underwater footage seen was filmed with an underwater handheld camera, swimming towards a waterfall in an upstate tributary of the Hudson River. By flipping the river’s surface upside down, the artists have created an otherworldly effect that conflates the ecological and social consequences of weapons testing. When Horses Were Coconuts is part of a larger project titled Fatal Act, originally presented at 80WSE in 2019, consisting of four video works that together plumb the history of nuclear warfare.