(This piece was shown at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Summer 2014, as part of the 2013-2014 Graduate Fellow show, Collective Disturbances.)
Tectonic Loop - 2014
For this piece, I transcribed one years worth of earthquake occurrences in Northern California by placing pieces of map tape (this tape was used to mark various types boundaries on maps before the advent of widespread digital mapping technologies) onto a 15 foot loop of ¼” audio tape. Each tick of map tape represents a single earthquake and the width of the map tape is proportional to the magnitude of the quake. I chose earthquakes located on the subduction zone between the Juan de Fuca and North American Plate. These earthquakes are interesting because they are deep to cause any movement on the surface but when seen in 3D their epicenters map the curve of the subducting Juan de Fuca slab under North America. They are mapping massive geological structures, that would otherwise be unseen. The ticks one the audio tape are “read” with a contact mic wired into the tape head of a hacked up compact cassette player. As the raised map tape passes over the contact mic the vibration is amplified, producing a click or cracking sound. This sound mimics the actual sound of seismic data associated with each earthquake. So, I am making an auditory analogue of the seismic data and the method of producting the sound is analogous to both the scraping movement of rocks along a fault and the planetary rock cycle. The tape loop passes around model of a mountain, made of old empty pens and credit cards. The clay bridging the electronics and mountain was collected from the surrounding area within the San Andreas Fault Zone and the Headlands Center for the Arts. The clay was rolled on the floor and walls of the gallery picking up the texture of the wooden floor boards and crumbling plaster walls, mimicking the scraping lines, slickenlines, found in rock fault zones. Additional sound comes from two tape loops, each modeling the energy of an earthquake in a different way. The first loop is playing the audio tracks of home movies taken during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake (mostly the sound of things falling down and screaming) and second is playing a hydrophone recording of the tsunami caused by the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake.