To complement this issue's special forum on the Japanese disasters of March 2011, this Gallery essay by Christine Marran analyzes photographs taken during the tsunami and soon after the subsequent nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants. In her essay Marran compares the work of two photographers, the first of whom captured the spectacular wave precisely as it inundated the Japanese coastline. Marran's second set of photographs is less familiar because the images are less dramatic; the photographer took a more radical approach by attempting to portray, through digital film, the emotional impact of lingering invisible radiation. Marran's insightful comparison suggests that the particulars of nature and technology matter in how cultures think about so-called natural disasters.

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