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Earthquake art

By ana in MLP
Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 10:20:34 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

Cool pictures made by the Seattle earthquake

Here are some Cool things made with a pendulum, some sand, and an earthquake at the Mind Over Matter shop in Port Townsend, Washington.

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comments (24)
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Earthquake art | 25 comments (22 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Original site jammed, try this one (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by RocketJeff on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 02:52:53 PM EST

The site linked above is jammed. They're suggesting that everyone look at this ABC News story instead.

It is a really spectacular piece of art.

But what about the children? (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:03:38 PM EST

From the aforementioned ABC News article:
Images of the pendulum's pattern has generated so much interest that Ward had hoped to take a mold of the pattern. But before someone could take the mold, Ward's 3-year-old son shook up those plans. When trying to get a better look at the intricately-carved sand, the boy accidentally kicked the pendulum -- and erased the sand's design.
It's gone forever.

Toddler vs. Earthquake (none / 0) (#9)
by elenchos on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 04:15:11 PM EST

Unstoppable Force meets Immovable Object, or something to that effect. And the kid wins. I couldn't have scripted better poetic justice.

[ Parent ]

poor kid (none / 0) (#14)
by Seumas on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:35:25 PM EST

I really feel sorry for the kid. I mean, while the rest of us enjoy a nice weekend, he'll be in traction. ;)
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Can it really be called "art"? (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by scorbett on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:21:16 PM EST

I admit, this is very cool, and probably unique (I don't think anyone has ever combined seismology and art before), but can it really be called art? There was no conscious force behind this, it's essentially just a snapshot of a force of nature in action, which itself is more or less a random occurence. Is that art?

When in doubt... (5.00 / 6) (#5)
by ucblockhead on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:26:57 PM EST

%s/Art/Cool thing to look at/g

and enjoy it.

Seriously, "art" is just a word, and pretty much meaningless at that. If the value of something depends on whether or not it is labelled 'art", then it ain't worth nothin'.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Point taken (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by scorbett on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 04:04:50 PM EST

Good point. I guess it was pretty anal of me to nitpick the small stuff like that. I retract my question! 8-)

[ Parent ]
tsk tsk. (4.33 / 3) (#7)
by Defect on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:31:22 PM EST

it's essentially just a snapshot of a force of nature in action

I'd like to see you say that to a professional photographer and just try to fight your way out of the argument/beating you bring on.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
What is Art? (none / 0) (#10)
by ana on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:00:02 PM EST

Art is a window washer in Madison, Wisconsin.

Well, he was in the 80's. I think he died. They had a T-shirt with the above slogan (and Art's picture with squeegee) on it, for sale in Madison.


Years go by; will I still be waiting
for somebody else to understand?
--Tori Amos

[ Parent ]

how dare you! (4.50 / 4) (#12)
by Seumas on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:26:59 PM EST

How dare you call it an unconcious force! Gaia, mother of the beautiful earth and giver of life to all must have had a hand in the generation of this beautiful and mystical design, of which no putrid earth-killing human could possibly comprehend! Why, saying mother earth is not concious is as blasphemous as suggesting carrots don't have emotions!
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
too bad... (none / 0) (#17)
by cbatt on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:18:06 PM EST

... that K5 has no sense of humor. :-\

Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

[ Parent ]
and we've all heard the story (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by jeanlucpikachu on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:20:26 AM EST

of four janitors playing poker at an art museum during a big exhibit. Something happened somewhere so they ran to clean it up. Meanwhile some tour guides and art critics came across the table where they were playing. They started talking 'blahblahblah' about the meaning of the way the cards were scattered, the juxtaposition of food and cards, and whatnot. Then the janitors came back & resumed their game, and alot of art critics looked like total morons. Art is whatever the fuck you want it to be. If you want it to be pretty sand lines made by an earthquake, more power to you for wanting to find the beauty in something that should have been terribly destructive.

Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
[ Parent ]
table (none / 0) (#11)
by Seumas on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:23:37 PM EST

I felt my table rattle during the earthquake. How much is it worth?

Seriously, I mean -- big whoop. Give me a seismograph printout over a dopey pendulum design any day. I guess maybe there's something 'cool' about it (though I have no clue what that might be), but I'm sure you could get a very similar effect by sticking one of these in the back of a pickup with poor shocks and driving over an unpaved road for 30 seconds.

This is almost as silly as seeing Mary or Jesus in the shape of a potato chip.
I just read K5 for the articles.

3D (none / 0) (#16)
by retinaburn on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:08:50 PM EST

Its an interesting shape in 3D. Normally the side-to-side movements measured by the sizemographs are translated to 3D.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
I think it's beautiful (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by johnzo on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:37:37 PM EST

What's cool about it? It's beautiful and ephermeral and has a nifty dichotomy to it -- who'd think that such a massive release of power could create something that looks so delicate? Kinda like emission nebulae.


[ Parent ]

Amusing! (none / 0) (#23)
by pallex on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:51:01 PM EST

Q: Who'd think that such a massive release of power could create something that looks so delicate?

Well, my answer would be `anyone who`s studied cosmology`, but i`ll give you a mark for "Kinda like emission nebulae" seeing as you are in the right area!


[ Parent ]
meaning? wtf? (4.16 / 6) (#13)
by Seumas on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:34:28 PM EST

MacLeod has been receiving thousands of letters from people theorizing what the shape might mean. Some have said it is the eye of Poseidon, a Greek god, others say it's a rose, some have even suggested it's a recording of a top secret government weapon designed to trigger earthquakes.

Or . . . *gasp* . . . Dare we say it? Could they simply be random squiqqles?

The quoted paragraph really illuminates human stupidity. Honestly. a rose? a greek god? eye of poseidon? And what do they mean by "what the shape might mean"? That's like dropping an egg on your kitchen floor and deciphering the meaning of the splatter. Seriously, those people need to get out more.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Not random (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by flieghund on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:03:23 PM EST

While you're probably correct in your analysis of the mental state of "those people," you're wrong that the lines could be "random squiqqles" [sic]. As I learned in physics class, the motion of a pendulum is very mathematical.

The pattern in this case does have a rather distinctive floral appearance. Whatever. One of the most amazing features of the human mind is its ability to find patterns where none exist. In this case, there actually is a pattern (the aforementioned mathematical one), so it's a fairly straightforward task to apply a name to it. Attributing said pattern to gods or a conspiracy, however, is just plain amusing.

Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Not exactly (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by whatnotever on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:29:03 PM EST

To be precise, the motion of the pendulum with no external forces besides gravity acting on it is described by simple physics. However, when the pendulum bob is being forced by the earthquake, it is random, inasmuch as the earthquake itself is random. So the patterns are more than simple oscillations, but they are no more than records of the random ground movements.

[ Parent ]
random? (none / 0) (#21)
by ucblockhead on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:11:17 AM EST

This is assuming, of course, that the ground movements are truly random, which might not be a good assumption. A geologist might know better.

There are certainly different types of earthquakes, rolling, shaking, etc., and a seismograph can distinguish them. Really, this "sand art" is just an odd sort of seismograph.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

If it had been a human's work? (none / 0) (#24)
by Seth Scali on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:49:30 PM EST

It's pretty obvious that the picture is the result of the random shaking of the earthquake, distilled through the mathematical processes of a pendulum swinging. It isn't human, and so it can't have any sort of "meaning" that an artist might have in mind when creating it.

But put that aside. Imagine that you simply saw this picture hanging in an art gallery, with the name of an unknown artist next to it. Would you simply call it "random"? Or would you wonder what the artist's intent was? Where his inspiration came from?

If it were called "Eye of Neptune", would you be inclined to think of the sand as symbolic of something, perhaps the beach shore and what that might represent to a God of the sea?

If it were called "Equality" or "Unity" or some other such name, wouldn't you wonder about the symmetry, the concentration of activity at the center, the vaguely flower-like appearance? Would you wonder about the meaning of these things?

Just trying to put some perspective on the issue.

[ Parent ]
This was... (none / 0) (#25)
by cr0sh on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 07:28:20 PM EST

Really beautiful...

It reminded me of a machine this kid I knew built back in elementary school for the school's "science" fair (I put that in quotes because there was little to no science involved for most of the exhibits - you know what I mean - but hey, we were kids!).

The device consisted of a table with four legs. Two pendulums, with variable sliding weights (to change the period), hung from the center of two of the perpendicular edges. A third pendulum hung from off center (closer to a leg) of the bisecting hypotenuse of the two perpendicular sides (this is hard to describe, I hope you understand).

The top of the table was plywood, and the pendulums hung through slots on the top surface, from knife edge steel supports on the top of the table (in other words, each pedulum had an "axle" which pivoted on the knife edge). Now, the two perpendicular (lets call them X and Y) pendulums were connected via rods to a device that held a pen. The third pendulum was connected with a rod to a board that rode on some sections of HO gauge model train track. On this board was a piece of paper. The pen had weights on it.

One person would hold the pen up, while another person would get the pendulums started. When all pendulums were going, the pen was placed on the paper, for the drawing to begin.

Strange manifestations, much like this pendulum device in the article, but somehow more complicated, and drawn in pen on paper. I still have a couple of drawings from that machine. The kind of look like spirograph drawings, but more "relaxed"...

Earthquake art | 25 comments (22 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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