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.  

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.

Earth Viewing (E.V.)

E.V. (Longnook) - Aluminum & Acrylic Primer, 2015 (w/ Gabriel Winer)

E.V. (Earth Viewing) is an attempt to circumvent dominant, culturally constructed modes of environmental perception by seeking an alienated perspective of the terrestrial environment. Techniques used in the remote sensing of alien planets base the form and function of the device on the requirements for durability and accuracy of perception in the subject environment. We invert the gaze and application of these methods to focus on an earthbound context.

The initial experiment (E.V. 1) was conducted at 42.020 N, -70.037 W, JD 2457263.375. A one-meter aluminum and masonite cube was positioned at the outer margin of an outwash plain with a single aperture oriented toward coastal ocean. Individuals inhabited the device for periods of 10 minutes and reported several perceptual shifts, particularly spacetime transformations and increased awareness of their own symbolic processing of the landscape.

The Satellite

The Satellite is a research initiative on the development of a real-time, experiential and hyper-realistic portrait of Earth, using live data from observation satellites to allow the public a more direct encounter with the planet. Working with open data feeds and simulated physics, the research was focused on creating visuals reflective of terrestrial phenomena: land color, cloud volumes, ice cover, lighting strikes, and aurorae. Two years of research were funded by Hewlett-Packard and a demo of the experimental software was featured in TechCrunch, on the International Space Station’s traveling exhibit at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, and the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. 

Project Overview:

The Satellite is a realtime, experiential, and hyper-realistic portrait of Earth, using live data from hundreds of satellites to allow the public a direct encounter with the planet. Entering a communal viewing space, participants look out upon an expansive, intimate vision of their world.

The “Blue Marble” photograph, captured by a NASA astronaut in 1972, is still the image of Earth that dominates our collective consciousness. Astronauts report a deep shift that occurs upon seeing their planet from space—labeled the “overview effect”—and seek to communicate the power of this heightened perspective to the public with photography. However, their perspective of the planet is highly subjective, limited by their personal perceptual abilities, and singular vantage point; as well as the representational entanglements and technical constraints of photography as a medium.

WIKA originally conceived of the project as part of their wider effort to identify and address gaps in environmental perception. When they came across a series of visual feeds from satellites, it was evident that the data being collected could offer a highly relevant, yet largely unseen, view of the planet.

Each moment, hundreds of satellites are circling the globe, delivering rich, detailed information. They offer science, government, and industry a new look at our planet that goes far beyond the understanding afforded by the individual. These datasets are cryptic, complex, and unwieldy—impenetrable to the general public. The Satellite is an intervention in public perception, an attempt to subvert these constraints by transfiguring the data streams into an instinctive encounter. Visits to the viewing chamber will take on a ritual dynamic, allowing participants to witness change firsthand, and to contemplate the unseen realities of the planet.

The Satellite is a reassessment and opening up of the potential of empirical data, to produce a direct, physical, and accessible experience of the planet as a living entity. Central to our tradition is a fascination with future landscapes: dreams of utopia, fueling a march toward comfort and bliss. The Hudson River School revealed an unseen Earth of their own in their imaginings of the American west. Today, with the widening and advancement of mechanized perception, new frontiers are coming into sharp focus. The space industry is becoming privatized and promoted; probes are seeking new interstellar worlds to settle. Artists are producing work that connect us to these new terrains. Thomas Ruff’s images package Mars as a tangible frontier, and James Turrell’s skyspaces help us to register our cosmic context.

By contrast, The Satellite is a mirror, an attempt at self-portraiture through landscape, to look back at ourselves in the historical moment. The Satellite encourages us to question the idea of the “known” world, exposing Earth as terra incognita.

Working with open data feeds and simulated physics, the research is focused on creating realistic, realtime visuals of terrestrial phenomena: land color, cloud volumes, ice cover, lighting strikes, and aurorae. These techniques are being continuously refined through photographic research, consultations, and feedback from audiences.

In providing broad, global access to this transformative piece, The Satellite will generate millions of subjective experiences of a shared reality: A place to weigh our stellar origins and our cosmic future, and the role this planet plays in that story.

Advisors to the project include Astronaut Charles Camarda, Writer Alex Zafiris, Game Developer Ivan Safrin, and NASA Goddard producer Matthew Radcliff.