After Image Requiem


Kei Ito

Media: Artist’s body, Sunlight, C-print, Collaboration with Andrew Keiper, 2018-2019

Afterimage Requiem is a large-scale visual and sound installation containing 108 human-scale photograms and a 4-channel sound work made by my collaborator, Andrew Keiper.

The installation probes the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the intertwined family histories between Keiper and I. On August 6th 1945, at 8:15 AM, my grandfather witnessed a great tragedy that destroyed nearly everything in Hiroshima. Meanwhile, Keiper’s grandfather was an engineer who participated in the development of the Atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project. Two generations later, Keiper and I are great friends and collaborators which may have been thought to be impossible for the people a few generations ago.

The 108 photograms were made by exposing the darkroom papers to sunlight with my body on top, which refers to the engraved people’s shadow near Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s Ground Zero. The heat of the explosion was hotter than the core of the Sun vaporizing people’s body instantly, leaving only shadows on the ground. The blinding heat was not the only effect of the nuclear bombings; the radiation that my grandfather was exposed to pierced through his skin and inscribed itself onto his genes and onto my own; our bodies are now being “captured” through time and history, film and DNA. As Keiper’s sound plays above in the air, my body lies on the ground, our grandfather’s positions are echoed in the space but our stances have changed. Each print is a prayer for the future.

This installation grapples with this history while asserting its pertinence to a contemporary audience living in an increasingly unstable political landscape. My photograms and Keiper’s 4-channel sound work portrays the bomb’s production created using the recordings made at atomic heritage sites in New Mexico and Chicago; the installation seeks mutual understanding while contemplating the roots, sorrow, and scope of the bombing. In an era of overt nuclear crisis unlike any seen in decades, Afterimage Requiem asks the audience to reflect on the ramifications of our current course, and to learn from the past.

Project Website

Article on the Washington Post Magazine (Physical copy/January 21st)

Article on the Baltimore Sun (Physical copy/January 17th)

Location: Baltimore War Memorial (2018), Noorderlicht-House of Photography(2018), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art-SECCA (2019), Apexart (2020), Ethan Cohen Kube (2021)