CLOCKS AND EARTHQUAKES
In 2010 took place a huge 8.8 earthquake in Chile. Back in those days, I read that this earthquake changed the axis of the Earth, therefore, time was modified in a fragment of a second.
"The days will be shorter"— it said.
The physical phenomenon of the Earth shacking changed time —or at least time in the way we measure and grab it in our clocks—.
I was impressed. Time is usually indescribable, as Saint Augustine would say. We experience its immateriality. Time just happens, like floating in the air, making us old without notice. But there is also the fact that time seems to run without any influence... in an autonomous and automatic mode. Unattainable, ephemeral, eternal and untouchable. Today —after Einstein's Relativity Theory— we know that time is in relation to space, being affected by gravitational forces, for example. But this understanding is not obvious to our human senses and the experience at our human scale. That's why the idea of the earthquake changing time was so powerful. Time relativity was not just at the scale of the universe, but now I looked possible to imagine living a time-pause, or maybe a time-disruption, time-mutations, time-malleability.
Of course, time didn't change. The Earth changed so the measurements of how we understand time in relation to Earth movement. Time didn't change. The rotation of the Earth got shorter. But, for a second, it was beautiful to think about time in a different way.
2th March 2010 / Earthquake in Chile changed the Earth's axis
"As a consequence of the earthquake, the days will be shorter".
I'm so attached to clocks and its scientific formula. It's hard for me to think about time in subjective terms, which might actually be the most sincere experience that everyone has in terms of time. Clocks are just a mediator. An outsider and imposed measurement.
When I moved into London, I used to feel that it was trembling all the time. Basically because that's the way you live in a land that shakes: you are continuously in a sub-conscious alert-mode. You know that the Earth shakes. You know that a bigger shake could happen any moment. You know that a bigger one might follow a softer one starts. So, if you feel any movement, you need to pay attention. You need to pause to feel, to connect and go to a save spot if it's necessary. I'm don't know if it is normal, but back in Chile you love as it is trembling all the time. Most of the cases might be your imagination. But other cases might actually be minor, imperceptible tremors. At least for me, it was like feeling a constant immanence. A constant instability.
I didn't know if there where Earthquakes in London when I first moved in. I never googled it. I just carried the Earth movement alert with me. The first weeks I tried to pay attention to feel the tremors, but after a year I just got used to the idea that the land here is fixed. It doesn't move. Which is very weird.
Tremors and earthquakes are one of the manifestations of the complexity of the "liveness" of nature. It remind us that there are forces that run parallel to our daily lives, but that they can affect us. It reminds us that we are not in a bubble of civilization. Civilization is not control and it's not a solution. We are part of a whole and we are vulnerable. To survive is not to control but to connect with your environments.
Moon Ribas / cyborg tremor artist
Moon Ribas is a Spanish cyborg dancer that has implants in her feet. This implants emit a shaking signal every time they sense an Earthquake around the Earth. She makes her dancing compositions in relation you this. Her next project is coping this sensing in relation to the moon.
"The wearable works by communicating over a cellular connection with a cloud-based server, which regularly parses a public US Geological Survey data source for new quake data. When seismic activity is detected, the intensity, distance and duration are represented by small vibrations felt by the wearer. This interaction is based on an existing implant Moon has in her arm, which responds simply to the intensity of earthquakes."
Sismo detector APP
Recently, I found a free app that alerts me when there is an Earthquake around the Earth. It's not that accurate as Ribas's might be because it works based on people's data. If you sense a tremor, you create an alert in the app. There might be a gap with places in which there is no internet or where this app is not known. Nevertheless, I get alerts almost everyday, or at least every week. The alerts are draw in a map, so you can visually follow the location of this constant activity.
The app also twitters the alerts.
Some common places where earthquakes happens:
- Pacific América (Chile, Perú, Colombia, Mexico, USA, Ecuador).
- Caribbean Sea (Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Panamá, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala)
- Pacific Asia (China, Indonesia, Japan, India)
- Mediterran (Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia)
- Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Yemen, Syria)
- Oceania (New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Solomon Islands)
- North Africa (Morocco, Algeria)
May 18th 2017 - Changes in the duration of the day and other 4 facts that you might not know about earthquakes - BBC
"At this very moment that you are reading this note, somewhere in the world, the earth is shaking.
And it is that, on average, there are about a million earthquakes a year on the planet.
The vast majority are so small that they go unnoticed.
However, based on observations since 1990, there are 17 earthquakes each year that are greater than 7 on the Richter scale, and a large one above 8, according to the United States Geological Survey."
One of the facts mentioned in this article is that some animals —as toads— might detect minor tremors, for example, by detecting electrical signals that come from tectonic activity.
United States Geological Survey is a scientific organization of the United States government that, among others, studies tectonic activity. The following website from the USGS monitors earthquakes including very low ones. I could work with this data.
Eternity / Time stops
At the moment you feel the tremor, you stop whatever you are doing. It is a moment of immanence: waiting until it passes, or waiting for the earthquake. Once the earthquake starts, eternity also starts. Time feels long even when the movement was just for about a few seconds.
This memorial was built after nine years that the city of Sichuan, China, was the epicenter of a 7.9 earthquake. It destroyed big part of the city, and after nine years, the collapsed buildings remain that way.
TREMOR - 13TH MEDIA ARTS BIENNALE CHILE
In Chile 2015, the topic for the 13th Media Arts Biennale TREMOR. I would like to highlight 3 artworks.
I and my art collective, lasElectros, participated in the biennale with a mechanical/electronic sound art installation. At that time, we were working with analog sound devices that activated analog chaotic noise in reaction to light and shadow. A light sensor triggered the sound when a shadow was reached. For the biennale, we built a mechanical system of pulleys, which remain in constant slow motion. The system was moving a shadow over the sound devices. Then, when the sensors were reached, the chaotic sound was reproduce. In a way, we where trying to represent/reflect on the constant tectonic movement of the Earth, but when a certain cross of energy was attained, the chaotic energy was released (earthquake/chaotic noise).
We were thinking in things —as tectonic movements— that are running at a different scale or different time so it looks imperceptible to our human experience but, nevertheless, always accompanying us.
Juan Sorrentino - Collapse
Collapse is an art installation in which sound vibrations cause have a material effect to make a wall to fall apart.
I like the physicality... feeling the sound not just through the ears but through the whole body.
Juan Sorrentino - Tremor
"Three speakers surrounded by a metal plate release the accumulated energy in the form of 3 Hz seismic waves. Each vibration outside the audible range of human beings and with a tiny phase/time shift is visually manifested on the speaker membranes. An amplified and visible earthquake. A body vibration. The genesis of the earthquake is contained in a small box with 3 oscillators, each one connected by cables to an amplifier module that maximizes the movement. This vibration is transmitted to the speakers that move the air by gently vibrating the wall." Text from Sorrentino's website.
Nicole L'Huillier, Thomas Sanchez Lengeling, and Yasushi Sakai - Diastrofismos
"Diastrofismos is a sound installation with a modular system that sends images through rhythmic patterns. It is built on a set of debris from the Alto Río building that was destroyed by the 27F earthquake in 2010 in Chile.
Diastrophisms operates as a memory register, but also as a communication system. It presents a rhythmic syntax, using sound as a tool for communication and organization. We created a custom protocol that enables the devices to communicate with each other by generating acoustic information based on an input (image) and by listening to sonic information from its surroundings. The input is a digital image encoded in binary data and transformed into rhythmic patterns. Devices communicate and transmit these rhythmic patterns pixel by pixel by means of percussive strikes on the surface of the debris. In turn, human interference can modify the sound pattern and affect the output image.
On the debris, we placed devices that struck the material producing a rhythmic pattern. The arrangement of the modules in different densities of debris provided acoustic variations and different resonances. The devices communicate with each other; they listen and repeat the percussive message. Each rhythmic pattern transmits a sound pixel, and after several sequences an image begins to appear as a result, creating an action of cyclic transduction. Here we see the full cycle: raw matter begins in the earth, becomes a building, then returns to the earth, where it is found as debris, which vibrates again, revealing the memory impregnated therein." Text from Nicole L'Huillier website.
Camila Colussi - Blurred Democracy
Last year I did a sound-light sculpture that used vibrating motors to make the word "democracy" shake. The shaking was in relation to sound amplitude, which corresponded to the sound recordings of social protest in Chile 2019.
Even when the project is not tremor-related, I've saved it here due to the use of vibrating motors, so the fact of the present of the vibration or, in a different a way, a sort of tremor.
AI and EARTHQUAKE PREDICTIONS
I've been thinking in start working in relation to tremors and earthquakes comes from two sides:
a) earthquakes changing time.
b) the comment of tremor / waiting for the earthquakes. A moment in which time stops, and you need to be in connection with the moment and everything around.
Nevertheless, I still don't know how to start working with this ideas. I keep thinking in Moon Ribas and her sensors. Then, I was thinking and building a earthquake sensor as Ribas's (one connected to all Earth through USGS data), and doing something with that data. Something like a different sensor that does something more than saying "there is an earthquake". Maybe some lights or graphics get activated, or something about sound. But I still don't know what. Maybe I could make a connection with my other parallel projects:
- resin clocks
- distance sensor speakers
- light installation
I must admit that this reference (which is a wifi that works in relation to moon cycles ), is pretty much how I imagine a "earthquake sensor". But, of course, I need to find my own way to do it.