Kiwi conceptual artist D.V. Rogers likes to shake it. “Earthquakes are in my blood, I guess,” says the
To prove it, he dug a trench 6 feet down near the cowboy hat-clad Rogers, who’s from Napier, New
San Andreas Fault in Parkfield, Calif., population 18. Zealand, a port city on the North Island leveled by
Into the void he lowered his very own hydraulic a magnitude 7. 9 quake in 1931.
shake table, rescued from a defunct mining museum Using software developed by Stock Plum in the
and set to jostle, its earthquake data captured by Netherlands and Dr. Geo Homsy in Alameda, Calif.,
the U.S. Geological Survey, where Rogers is an PIEQF runs a Python script to isolate California data
artist in residence. Atop the hulking, three-ton slab, from the USGS monitoring network. Its I/O card
he attached an array of 10-foot, 3-inch steel rods drives a bank of relays that switch solenoid valves
that oscillate to the Earth’s seismic hum. and open the gates to hydraulic actuators, allowing
The project, Parkfield Interventional EQ Fieldwork the entire table to move horizontally and vertically.
— the EQ stands for earthquake — started rumbling The swaying rods above accentuate the table’s
in the late 1990s, when the artist, based in Sydney, movement and that of the ground below.
Australia, acquired the table. A couple of years and “The idea is to create a physical representation of
3,000 hours of labor later, Rogers had a modular a dynamic landscape,” Rogers says at his character-machine that moved when global earthquakes rattled. istic lightning clip. “I’m intervening and introducing a
An early installation caught the attention of USGS human time scale, literally creating a reflector of the
scientist Andy Michael, who suggested bringing the geologic time frame we reside in.”
work to Parkfield, the most heavily monitored part —Megan Mansell Williams
of the globe, seismically speaking, known for withstanding a magnitude 6.0 or greater quake every Earthquake Machine:
22 years or so (the last one was in 2004).
Photograph by Scott Haefner USGS
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