Experiments in trying to understand the world.

Dana Karwas

Current work. Paintings, digital imagery, and drawings. 

Observations    Art

Dana Karwas

Event: Tōhoku Earthquake
DATA source: Strong Motion Network K-Net 
Origin Time 2006/01/18 23:25:00 
Lat. 37.798 Lon. 142.200 
Depth. (km) 36 Mag. 5.7
Station Code MYG002
Station Lat. 38.7262
Station Lon. 141.5109
Station Height(m) 79
Record Start Time 2006/01/18 23:25:46
Sampling Freq(Hz) 100Hz
Dir. N-S / E-W / U-D
Scale Factor 3920(gal)/6182761
Max Acc. (gal) 48.060
Date of Event: 3:11:2011

2011-03-11 05:46:24 UTC

On March 11th, 2011 at 5:45:24 UTC the 9.1 magnitude Tōhoku megathust earthquake shook Japan. I experienced this earthquake first hand in the basement of a skyscraper in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo. This piece is about what it felt like to emotionaly process one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in human history. The final painting, Tohoku from Green to Blue, is based on my own personal memory guided by 3D model views and live animations of the seismic data.  I reconnected with the 5 minute event on canvas through the psychological and physical space of gestural painting. 

My eyes changed from hazel green to dark blue for a few hours after the event— in fear.

What is that loud clanking sound coming from the building above — that is the sound of the beams  hitting each other. 

During the first aftershook, I laid down on the ground near a large tree in the park— to be part of the shaking ground, not separate from it. 

I wanted to keep looking at the sky— it was not moving.

Fig 1. Tōhoku from Green to Blue II. Acrylic on Canvas.  80” x 55”. 2017

Fig 2. Tōhoku from Green to Blue I. Acrylic on Canvas.  60” x 36”. 2017

Fig 3. Tōhoku Seismic 3D Curve POV001. Digital Print. 2017

Fig 4. Tōhoku Seismic 3D Curve POV002. Digital Print. 2017

With a background in architecture I am conditioned to understand the world through dimension. This started formally by imagining new physical spaces with a vision of what could be through traditional drafting methods: plans, sections, elevations, sketches, 3D modeling and photo realistic renderings.  In my recent work I am using similar methods to extract models of time sensitive events in physical space. For example I want to understand an ocean wave as it begins to break both as an emotional state and as a physical space.  I find observable events in motion impossible to visually understand in their whole outside of directly experiencing them first hand.   I am building  from the known, what can be observed and felt directly, to the unknown --- a new way of seeing something that occupies space and time, reintroducing the event into a new reality.

My process combines objective sensing instruments such as accelerometers, barometers, seismographs, and public data from sites such as NOAA and USGS  with subjective experience. The interpretation of this dataset is then translated to a series of digital models that are studied at different scales to be further recontextualized into the event memory by reintroducing it into reality. The recontextualisation is a way to get closer to the initial event as a release of digital pressure to form an embodied experience.

In short I have a first hand experience, I collect and synthesize available data of the event through digital models and animations, and then I revisit the experience in person through drawing and painting.

MPS New York University Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

B.Arch in Architecture from The University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design

Former: Media Director at Maya Lin Studio

Current: Lecturer, Department of Technology, Culture and Society at New York University in the Integrated Digital Media Program.

Contact: dkarwas (at) gmail (dot) com

Full CV and biography are available upon request.