Sudden Nature

Sudden Nature by Isaac Kerlow (Mexico/USA) is a project about the uneasy relation between Man and Nature, and how this inescapable relation often oscillates from nurturing to destruction. The project includes a variety of media ranging from visual artworks and stenciled text to interactive installations with image and sound. The Dialog of Monologs audio installation, for example, uses ultrasonic sensors to trigger statements by Man and Nature about each other. Stenciled on the wall above the sensors are words describing some of the destructive actions typical of natural hazards. The typographic style of these words is inspired by the multi-lingual signs that are common in construction sites throughout Singapore, where English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil are de facto languages.


The interactive installation I think he loves me invites the viewer to interrupt a video loop that presents a metaphor for the human destruction of nature. Isaac Kerlow was inspired by conversations with survivors of natural disasters in communities throughout Southeast Asia, which have endured for centuries earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions and lahars. The shock, the loss and the recovery are overwhelming emotions that most humans do not encounter in the course of a lifetime. Some of the disaster survivors were explicit about their feelings while others would let their silence speak for itself.


What Earth science ideas inspired your artwork?
IK: I am fascinated by the idea of how unpredictable Earth can be. Many natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcano eruptions, are difficult to predict with pinpoint accuracy. These situations oftentimes result in large loss of human life, and bring with them feelings of despair in the impacted populations. I am also interested in how different ancient and contemporary mythologies represent Earth and nature alternatively as benevolent and destructive forces.

SN-01-Broken-S SN-02-Buried-S SN-03-Burnt-S SN-04-Crushed-S SN-05-Drowned-S SN-06-Fractured-S SN-07-Polluted-S SN-08-Pulverized-S SN-09-Sliced-S

Does your artistic work provide a better understanding of Earth?
IK: I hope that my project will inspire people to realize that our relationship with Earth is a two-way relationship. We can’t expect good things to happen all the time, and we have to be prepared for the occasional disaster especially if we live in hazardous areas. I would also like to communicate the fact that Earth and nature are dynamic systems that change, and some of that change can be for the better or for the worse depending on our actions. The inadvertent destruction of nature, I think, can be as negative as the active pollution of the waterways and the systematic destruction of the rain forest.

Is this artwork likely to inspire people?
IK: Artists can never be sure of how our artworks will be interpreted. Some aspects of my work are easy to understand while others are subtle. There are audiences for both. The visceral aspect of some of my work impacts some people. I have been pleasantly surprised that audiences that I thought would not fully relate to my EOS-sponsored artwork find it thought-provoking. Art has the power to influence people’s ideas about the world.

List of Works

Scream I, 2012
Pigment print, 110 × 61 cm, artist’s proof

Color Scream, 2012
Pigment print, 110 × 61 cm, artist’s proof

Durian 013, 2012
Pigment print, 110 × 61 cm, artist’s proof

Unravel, 2012
Pigment print, 110 × 61 cm, artist’s proof

Mutation, 2012
Pigment print, 110 × 61 cm, artist’s proof

SN-SAM-Stand Here-1 SN-SAM-Stand Here-3

I think he loves me, 2013
Interactive video installation video projector, computer, arduino, ultrasound sensors20 sec video loop

Dialog of monologs, 2013
interactive audio installation
6-10 ultrasound sensors, arduino, speakers, stenciled words on wall


Isaac Kerlow is an artist and filmmaker whose work deals with change, technology and the human condition. He is considered one of the pioneers of digital art, and continues to create with digital technology and traditional techniques. Isaac lives and works in Asia since 2005 and his friends have named him Ke Yi Xiao, 柯一笑. In addition to his creative work Isaac has a long and intermittent relationship with academia. During the 1980s he was the Founding Chairman of the legendary Department of Computer Graphics and Interactive Media at Pratt Institute in New York City, and during the mid-2000s he was the Founding Dean of Singapore’s first professional art/media/film school at the Nanyang Technological University.