College of The Albemarle’s (COA) Professional Arts Gallery is located at the Roanoke Island Campus in Manteo. The gallery hosts a variety of events featuring the talents of our students, faculty and local artists.
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The sculpture, “Ocean Bottom Seismometers,” consists of nine glass hemispheres used for containing ocean bottom seismometers, many or all of which have been deployed by scientists on numerous research expeditions. Artist Christina Weisner found these cases at the University of Texas’ (UT) Surplus where they had been sent as discarded material by the UT Institute for Geophysics, one stop away from the landfill. Because Weisner was curious about the former use of these objects, she met with one of the leading scientists in the field of seismology at UT at Austin and learned through stickers denoting serial numbers and ocean-bottom depth where most of the seismometer cases had been previously deployed. These include locations such as the Bering Strait, near Taiwan, and the Chicxulub Crater (an ancient impact crater buried partially underneath the sea near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico). Scientists at the UT Institute for Geophysics and Information Technology specialists at COA helped Weisner to understand how the actual seismometers worked, as well as taught her to rig them so that they could function in a sculptural installation.
Each of the nine glass hemispheres in the sculpture sits atop a plexiglass cube on which a mallet-rigged system is built to strike the spheres when activated by real-time seismic activity based on live data provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). There are approximately fifty earthquakes worldwide per day. One of the nine spheres houses a working seismometer, which consequently will read and display on a screen the frequency at which the spheres are being hit by the mallets as well as the movements caused by the footsteps of people in the gallery viewing the work. Ideally this sculpture will encourage viewers to consider the macro and micro processes through which we interact with the physical world on a daily basis. The resonating sound made by the mallets hitting the glass alters the space physically and psychologically as the sculpture quite literally creates a composition of tones correlating to the movement of the earth.
- Support from an anonymous component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation
- UT at Austin
Special thanks to COA’s Information Technology program, specifically Kerry Krauss, and COA’s Welding Technology program, specifically Michael Lopes and Jeff Spear; and Dr. Professor Yosio Nakamura from the Institute for Geophysics at the UT at Austin.
About the Artist
Christina Weisner is an instructor in the Department of Fine Arts at COA. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Sculpture and Bachelor of Arts (BA) in World Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (2006) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Sculpture from the UT at Austin (2010). In 2013 – 2014, Weisner was awarded a Fulbright Grant for Sculpture and Installation Art to Germany, where she worked on a series of site-specific sculptures based on the Ries Meteorite Impact Crater. Her work often employs found objects, scientific instrumentation and elemental materials, and has been shown both nationally and internationally, most recently at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany and Artfields in South Carolina.
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