Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Documenting Destruction

To Ishikawa, it was only with sunrise that the magnitude of destruction came to light. Only then could he confirm that he was actually “in the land of the living.” Thus assured, Ishikawa began to photograph the aftermath, albeit reluctantly. The images he captured that morning are perhaps the best visual testament we have to the bodily scale of suffering. Charred corpses piled along thoroughfares and floating in canals; carbonized women and children;  stunned survivors searching for family; still smoldering air raid shelters filled with asphyxiated bodies. When read against the abstract aerial photographs produced and disseminated by the USAAF to communicate, if not celebrate, the achievements of the raid, these images remind us of the humanity that lay below. They show us the corporeal consequences of bombardment.

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