Art as Aftershock

Earthquakes are dangerous phenomena, yet two artists chose to present these natural disasters, in a way that makes viewers contemplate, rather than fear them.

Luke Jerram and Carlos Amorales created works that comment on the 2011 Japanese Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, respectively. Their works allow viewers to contemplate the nature of earthquakes with the help of visualizations through seismographic data.

In Jerram’s piece, the artist took the seismographic data from the Tōhoku earthquake, and rotated it using a computer program to see the data in three-dimensions, later printing it in those dimensions. The sculpture, made in 2011, represents nine minutes of the earthquake, allowing viewers to calculate, and imagine, the severity of the disaster on their own.

Amorales approaches the 1985 earthquake in a more theoretical presentation, in “Vertical Earthquake” (2010). Rather than using data, the artist creates his own fault lines and cracks on the walls, drawing epicentres around each. The artist chose to capture the chaos and emotion of the event. Within the installation, newspaper clippings of the disaster are displayed, with fault lines drawn on them as well.

Where Jerram uses data to help visualize the severity of the earthquake in Japan, Morales plays with drama and emotion, creating a fragmented image which symbolically reflects the earthquake that he witnessed. Both pieces however, are sobering reminders of the immense power our Earth has over man-made constructions.

-Anna Paluch