Dana Karwas 

In a Heartbeat
On view now!
March 27 - June 26, 2021


New Haven Arts Paper April 29, 2021
At Artspace, Dana Karwas Finds The Pulse by Arturo Pineda

In a Heartbeat examines moments, often unconscious gestures, that nevertheless might be pivotal moments in someone’s life, through three sculptural works: Counter-Curve, Orbital Axis, andArc of Near. The exhibition takes its inspiration from The Princess Steel, a piece of speculative fiction by the writer and sociologist W.E.B Du Bois, who proposed a way to inspect the arc of civilization created using 200 years of data made up of “everyday facts of life.” Initially foiled by all of the “curves” and “curious counter-curves” of human deeds the protagonist, Professor Johnson, reveals that he has created an invention capable of integrating small moments into what he calls “the Great Near,” an accumulation of all the normally invisible experiences of a person’s life. Any mundane moment can be imbued with dread; what heart-stopping catastrophe might await? Alternately, without context, any single moment or simple gesture is slight and can be perceived to mean very little—an adult reaching into a purse to find their keys or a child stretching for cookies above a stove. Our assumptions while observing such moments can be maddening as our minds plot out “curious counter-curves” that can be as fantastical as one of Du Bois’s stories, an immeasurable inflection point where a whole life can be glimpsed. Karwas’ pedagogy and personal research involves investigating these modes of perception. 

Thank you Lisa Dent and Artspace New Haven, Larry Wilen at the Yale CEID for engineering and fabrication help with Arc of Near, Rishab
Jain and Nathan Burnell from the Yale School of Architecture for helping me wrangle orbital axis into a 3D print, Linda Ross Art Studio for glass fabrication, Classic Welding for the steel frame, Alex Zafiris for the feedback and writing, and my friends and family members that have helped this show become a reality!

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 earth quake first hand in the basement of a skyscraper in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo.

This artwork is about what it felt like to emotionally process one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in human history.


The series of  paintings, Tōhoku 2011-03-11 05:46:24 UTC, is based on my own personal memory of the earthquake which emerged from a two year process of experimenting with the motion data in digital mediums such as 3D animation, 360 video, and mixed reality and in traditional media including graphite, oil pastel, technical pen, and charcoal on paper.  The series of experiments resulted in settling with acrylic on canvas--- the fluidity of the paint and the spatial presence of a large canvas presented the perfect conditions for what I was trying to express.  This felt right as my memory of the earthquake was very physical.

I reconnected with the five minute event on canvas through the psychological and physical space of gestural painting.  The performative painting was guided by motion studies that were developed by taking the seismic data recorded at 100 Hz and creating a very dense curve in Autodesk Maya.  The motion became visible when turned the curve into a motion path and animated a sphere along the path (like a rollercoaster).  Having the animation play next to me while painting, I had a guide for the movement. This allowed me to see the motion in time while using rollers, my hands, and small brushes to paint the earthquake experience.


Dana Karwas 

Immutable Swell

Immutable Swell is a sculptural representation of an ocean wave as it breaks onto land. The  artwork was created by extracting over 500,000 data points from a custom buoy sensor placed in the waters of Cape Cod. This data was combined  with my own own personal experience of swimming in the ocean to emerge as a complex 3D digital inscription of an ocean wave. By using software and motion analysis to observe the wave from a digital distance, I was able to distill invisible structures in the wave. Immutable Swell represents an opportunity for viewers to reflect upon the powerful and mysterious patterns found in the ocean.

Immutable Swell Sculpture. 3D Printed Resin 5” x 5”  (Displayed with Ocean Video Vitrine), 2018

“We do not uncover pre-existing facts about independently existing things as they exist frozen in time like little statues positioned in the world ... Rather, we learn about phenomena—about specific material configurations of the world’s becoming. The point is not simply to put the observer or knower back in the world but to understand and take account of the fact that we too are part of the world’s differential becoming.” 

----Karen Barad,  Meeting the Universe Halfway1.

Bruno Latour uses the term Immutable Mobiles to explain a flattening of reality that happens to scientific images enabling them to circulate globally—to become mobile, yet immutable. Its significance comes from optical consistency, a Renaissance visualization technique in linear perspective allowing the possibility of physical spaces and objects to go from one type of visual trace to another2.

The prescriptiveness of representation doesn’t box in the original data, however. A given representation of the data is only a referendum on itself, since the underlying information still exists and can still be looked at in an infinite number of ways. The Immutable Swell as portrayed here as the distilled moment of a body moving in a wave is not intended to foreground a specific conclusion, but instead it is asking for an emotional response from the viewer. 

Shown at Creative Turbulence, a group show in NYC at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute featuring work from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, David McLeod and Berndnaut Smilde.

Immutable Swell Sculpture. 3D Printed Resin 5” x 5”  (Close Up), 2018

Immutable Swell Sculpture. 3D Printed Resin 5” x 5”  (With Ocean Video Light), 2018

Immutable Swell Inkjet Print on Archival Paper. 40”x40”, 2018

Immutable Swell Sculpture and Print. Creative Turbulence Exhibition NYC on View at the Helix Center
NYC, June 2018

  1.  Latour, B. (1986). Visualisation and cognition: Drawing things together. Knowledge and
    Society: Studies in th e Sociology of Culture Past and Present , 6, 1–40.

  2. Barad, Karen Michelle. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press, 2007.