When Need Moves the Earth

When Need Moves the Earth by Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thailand) is an artwork that reflects on the impact of altering the natural environment during the course of human activities such as mining or the creation of hydroelectric power. More specifically the artist presents a visual exploration of a coal mine and a water dam, both of which are used to generate electricity.

VAP-Som screen 1-00m16s-LR

The video installation combines documentary and experimental techniques to create a unique narrative of the Srinakarin Dam and the Mae Moh Lignite Mine, both sites administered by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. These two large-scale sites are located along or near natural active faults, which are deep or shallow fractures that give expression to the dynamic Earth.

In addition to drastically altering the landscape, coal mining and dam building are also known to be a potential cause of man-made earthquakes. Most of these are small in scale compared to the most destructive natural earthquakes, but they can influence the stress load stored in natural faults. This artwork also encourages viewers to consider our high consumption of electrical power and proposes that communities and societies improve their sustainability planning and hazard reduction efforts.


What Earth science ideas inspired your artwork?
SS: I like the way in which EOS, a scientific research institution, opened their doors to artists. I like the fact that the program gave artists and scientists a chance to learn from one another before the production of artworks.I learned to use new tools to understand the Earth and new methods of mapping. I am now aware of the possibility of interpreting the formation of cracks on site and on Google Earth and tag them to a Global Positioning System (GPS).


What did you learn from the interaction with the Earth scientists?
SS: I learned that there are many forms of energy, other than what we often use, to produce electricity. The scientists at EOS showed me visual evidence of the Earth’s energy and this inspired me to conduct further research on the topic. I learned that everything gets energy by its interaction with other elements. The movements and the transformation of Earth shows that it is full of energy.

How does your artistic work provide a better understanding of Earth?
SS: I was surprised when I learned that large-scale electricity generators sit on active fault lines. I think that a basic knowledge of Earth science should be part of our primary education system. We should remember that we are part of an ever-changing system, and we should learn the best ways to adjust it.

Is this artwork likely to inspire people?
SS: I hope that people will see a connection between themselves and the causes of electricity over-generation and waste. I wish that people will take issues of energy and Earth science more seriously. I also want to encourage others to reconsider designs of homes and electrical devices, and find solutions to consume less energy.

List of Works

When Need Moves the Earth, 2013
Video installation, 3 screens, 20 min 34 sec


Sutthirat Supaparinya is a video and installation artist living and working inChiang Mai, Thailand. She obtained her BFA in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University, and later pursued a postgraduate degree in media Arts from Hochschule Fuer Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany. In the year 2010, she was awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to conduct visual arts research. In the same year, she was also selected to participate in the International Creator Residency Program at the Tokyo Wonder Site Aoyama. She supports local art in Chiang Mai, and is a member of the Chiang Mai Art Collective, a non-profit organization promoting contemporary art and culture in Chiang Mai.