geophysics, structural geology, tectonics
Bruce Douglas, Michael Hamburger, Kaj Johnson, Gary Pavlis, Bob Wintsch, Brian Yanites
MICHAEL HAMBURGER Professor of Geological Sciences | Geophysics, Seismology, and Tectonics
EAS faculty member Michael Hamburger collabo-
rates with artist James Nakagawa for a prestigious
art exhibit.

Here’s an honor that you might not expect for an
the devastation but to contemplate the lives
IU geologist: invited participation in an international
of those who vanished on that day in March.

art exhibition. As part of an unusual collaboration
However, he found himself unsure of what to
between artists and scientists, EAS Professor Mi-
do with the photographs he had taken.

chael Hamburger collaborated with IU Professor
As part of this unique collaboration between
of Fine Arts Osamu James Nakagawa to document
the devastating impact of a major natural disaster
— the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku (Japan) earthquake
and tsunami. Their artistic collaboration, which they
refer to as “Seismophotography,” was part of the IU’s
Grunwald Gallery exhibition, “Imag(in)ing Science,”
in 2013. Several pieces from that exhibition were ac-
cepted for a prestigious international photographic
exhibition. The Noorderlicht Photofestival, based in
Groningen, Netherlands opened in October of 2017,
and featured six of the pieces created by Nakagawa
and Hamburger for the exhibition.

artist and Earth scientist, Michael Hamburger
modified the photographs using a number
of traditional recording techniques that have been used
by seismologists for over a century: smoke-paper and
ink-pen recording of current seismic activity on rotating
seismograph drums. They also experimented with man-
ual tracing of specialized engineering recordings from
“strong-motion seismographs” positioned close to the
location of the photographic images. These techniques
produced a new medium, “seismophotography”: images
that bring together photographic and seismological im-
pressions of dynamic Earth activity. The combination of
Photographer Osamu James Nakagawa returned to
seismographic data and photographic images produce a
his native Japan in the aftermath of the “3.11 disaster”
mysterious, evocative, and sometimes powerful impression
and collected striking images of damage incurred
of the impacts of Earth activity on human agency and
by the earthquake and tsunami. Nakagawa turned
the ways in which we strive to understand and respond
his camera to the sea, a place where tragedy now
to them.

found itself embedded in the silent landscape marred
The images were on display at the Noordelicht Photofes-
with debris, a bridge between life and death. In these
images, his intention was not to merely document
tival In November 2017.

Left: collaborative seismophotograpic imagery from
geophysicist Michael Hamburger and artist James Nakagawa
for an exhibition in the Netherlands.

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