Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas, and Martin Wattenberg

The Nevada Museum of Art, long known for exhibitions and collections related to the natural and built environment, now ventures into virtual environments with the commission of Bloom. Created by collaborators Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas, and Martin Wattenberg, Bloom was envisioned as a tribute to the late American painter Kenneth Noland (1924-2010). Noland was a pioneer of Color Field painting with an innovative approach to color.

In this internet-based Earthwork, unpredictable live movements of the Hayward Fault are detected by a seismograph, transmitted continuously via the Internet, and processed to generate an evolving field of circular blooms. The size and position of each bloom is based on real-time changes in the Earth’s motion, measured as a vertical velocity continuously updated from the seismometer. Horizontal position based on time; vertical based on magnitude of rate of change; and size based on time between events. Colors come from photographs of flowers found on photo-sharing site Flickr.

Referencing landscape painting and abstraction, Bloom creates a sublime experience of the growth and fragility of the natural world.

Special thanks to Richard Allen, Doug Neuhouser, and Peggy Hellweg of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for the live data feed from the Hayward Fault seismometer station and to David Nachum, Vijay Vasudevan, Woj Matusek for work on earlier versions, and to Anne Wagner for insights.

Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas, and Martin Wattenberg, BLOOM (detail), 2012. Custom software with live data feed, size variable. Courtesy of the Artists. Commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art.