It was two years ago today that Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US, causing massive destruction along the eastern seaboard and especially in New York and New Jersey. Instruments recording ocean and atmospheric data during Sandy registered a number of extremes: the storm surge at Battery Park in New York topped 13.88 feet: more than three feet higher than the previous record set by Hurricane Donna in 1960. Waves in New York Harbor hit a record high of 32.5 feet, more than six feet above the record set by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Sandy’s barometric pressure was the lowest ever recorded for an Atlantic storm making landfall north of Cape Haterras; and the storm’s hurricane-force winds extended 175 miles from the eye. (Storm statistics found here.)
Nathalie Miebach, a Boston-based artist featured in State of the Art, used the weather data associated with Superstorm Sandy in an unusual way to create her artworks featured in the exhibition. Miebach builds sculptures of reed and other materials woven together in much the same fashion as a basket. However, each part on these sculptures represents some set of data points related to Sandy.
She has crafted this information into the shape of amusement park rides related to two locations where the storm’s impact was worst: Coney Island in Brooklyn and Seaside Heights, New Jersey, both of which happened to have oceanside amusement parks that were devastated by the high winds and storm surge.
With a little guidance from the artist, we can read Miebach’s sculptures as a record of the atmospheric and oceanic levels, hour-by-hour, throughout the duration of the event. Follow this link to view a video in which Miebach gives us a brief guided tour of her sculpture O Fortuna, Sandy Spins.