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 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.

Keywords: Getural Painting, Data Experiment
Programs Used: Python, 3D Maya, Max/MSP, After Effects

Tōhoku I 2011-03-11 05:46:24 UTC Acrylic on Canvas 48 x 48 inches

The motion path was created digitally from a 3D curve using 30,000 points from the x,y,z seismic data points.  A MEL script was used to generate the curve in Maya. Upon first viewing the curve, my heart-rate went up,  the density created by the data and technological signature present in the curve was intense --- it was hard for me to look at directly.  

Maya rendering of earthquake data generated as a curve.