Representations of earthquakes in visual art have the potential to function as spectacles (defined as striking or dramatic public displays); this in turn provokes consideration of how viewers construct meaning from such representations. The author examines the work of a number of artists arguably concerned with going beyond spectacular representations in their portrayals of earthquake activity. Particular focus is placed upon performative techniques meant not only to engage audiences with the properties of seismic phenomena but also to stimulate reflection on the complex psychological responses they may trigger, as well as their analogous relationships to conditions of environmental and cultural crisis.
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