Image Invasion


What I’ll present here is a personal memoir with a very literal relation to the Cold War and its images, both those drawn from dystopian fictions and those stemming from efforts on the part of both the UK government and its critics in the late 1970s and early 1980s to prepare the public for nuclear armageddon.

The benign propaganda fed to me as a child in the early 80s by my anti-nuclear-campaigning parents was a good introduction to nihilism. I’m not sure of the intended effect of encouraging a child otherwise diligently shielded from violent images (especially the then newly-imported American TV shows) to watch films such as Threads, The Day After, and When the Wind Blows—visions of pre-nuclear terror and post-nuclear devastation which supplemented the ominous warnings of the Xeroxed pamphlets often scattered about the house, both anti-nuclear campaign tracts and helpful state advisories on the appropriate action to be taken in the event of a nuclear attack. Its actual effect was to focus my imagination on those precious minutes after the warning was sounded, an ultimate holiday during which all rule and law would be null and void, the conventions and strictures of society would crumble, nothing would matter any more, and everything would be permitted…