NUCLEAR FAMILY explores institutional and personal representations of memory and behavior through a complex interweaving of scientific documentation, animal behavior experiments and vintage pre-school footage. The approach is formalistic and optically printed material is used throughout. The drama of the nuclear family is played by a series of non-human subjects ranging from mannequins used in 1950s nuclear blast experiments to doves playing ping-pong. The notion of family is experienced as iconic, nostalgic and a recollected remnant of the nuclear age.
“The transgression and confrontation is re-enacted in this brilliant fuguelike film by Dana Plays constructed of found footage, and concerning both American involvement in oversees conflict and the resultant unseen plight of the child refugee. Subverting state-sponsored informational films on such issues as war bonds and highway safety, Plays transforms these agit-prop rhetorics into a celluloid mirror of transgression as a larger cultural pathology. In Zero Hour, the results – the products of war return to the initial cite of production: an assumed audience of Americans, middle–class citizens of an ideal suburban dream who have somehow foregone the immediate experiences and repercussion of mass destruction and displacement. The gaze rests on us. We are the sugar-stated, hyper and unaware violator, an audience whose relationship to world events is nowhere more homogenous than in or communal incubation and guilt.” – William Tester