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Epicentres

DAY, Michael (2015) Epicentres. [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

Epicentres is a series of computer-generated images that indicate the position of earthquakes in remote locations, in this case, Alaska in winter. Tremors that are low on the Richter scale might only be sensed by seismological recording equipment rather than be felt by humans. Twenty-four of these images were collected in a softback publication, produced as part of 'The Editions', by Guerilla Writers, edited by Sharon Kivland.

The research is part of a wider inquiry into the devolution of the experience of noticing external phenomena to digital sensing equipment. Here, technology pays attention to this visceral geological event so we don’t have to; data is silently gathered, quantified, and visualised, and everyday life remains uninterrupted by these events. It might be said that the sensing apparatus constructs the real through an automated mediation of it, by determining what constitutes a seismological ‘event to be noticed’. The utilitarian aesthetic qualities of these images, whose diagrammatic form reveals almost nothing about the physically unsettling affective experience they refer to, further distances the event from the realm of the subjective. Collecting the images in a book could be seen as an attempt to reclaim some humanness, or relatable materiality, from this automated sensing system, while the form of the book also invites the type of focused human attention that is often claimed to be eroded by digital technologies.

Item Type: Artefact
Additional Information: Michael Day Imperatives As part of a wider enquiry into practices of attention, Epicentres sets out to explore how large-scale data-gathering infrastructures remotely augment and construct human experience. Context This work exists in a context where web-to-print works that use screen capture, image grab, site scrape and search query ask pertinent and critically grounded questions of the material relations involved in digitally mediated experiences (Soulellis, n. d.). Methodology The piece redeploys imagery generated by an automated earthquake sensing system in book and photographic form. It appropriates copyright-free material from the United States Geological Service’s real-time earthquake alert system (USGS, n. d.). Cropped versions of automatically-generated maps showing the location of earthquakes in remote areas of Alaska were compiled into a book of images, adopting a conceptualist strategy of appropriation whereby data is re-presented with the work operating as a ‘pointer to what exists’ (Stallabrass, 2003, p. 27). Their cropping removes information that allows the images to be decoded as data, instead inviting an aesthetic encounter that decontextualises and defamiliarises them. Insights The only way to experience these remote, low-intensity earthquakes is as automated images generated from sensor data, with no guarantee that the images themselves will receive a human viewing. The technological data-gathering apparatus constructs the real through an automated mediation of it, by determining what constitutes a seismological event to be noticed, paying attention on our behalf. The utilitarian aesthetic qualities of these images, whose diagrammatic form reveals almost nothing about the physically unsettling experience they refer to, distances the event from the realm of the subjective. Some of the images were re-presented as part of a photography exhibition, which enabled them to be analysed using the historical context of photography as a theoretical framework. The insight generated from this work is a reconsideration of how thresholds of perception can be augmented by digital sensing infrastructure. References Soulellis, P. (n.d.). About: Library of the Printed Web. [Online]. Available from: http://libraryoftheprintedweb.tumblr.com/post/43311353240/about. [Accessed: 25 June 2018]. Stallabrass, J. (2003). Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce. London: Tate Publishing (UK). United States Geological Survey (n.d.). ANSS - Advanced National Seismic System. [Online]. Available from: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/anss/. [Accessed: 25 June 2018].
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Art and Design
Depositing User: Michael DAY
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 11:35
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 10:34
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/3772

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