The journey through life is a universe of sweeping rivers guiding a single infinitesimal rowboat. The decisions one
makes at each fork forever alters the course of its history. In chaos theory, Edward Lorenz describes this sensitive
dependency of later states on prior conditions as the Butterfly Effect.
With each decision, each resolution, each exertion of choice, a gamut of lateral potentialities are born from the paths left abandoned. We find these potentialities fascinating and venture to explore them in 'Filament'.
We recognize that the concept of lateral potentialities, borrowed from Off-Modernism, when applied to life could introduce a discussion on fatalism and free will. We don't take a position on that here but simply offer the idea that there are almost an infinite number of possibilities for the course one can take, and that the reality one has arrived at today is not necessarily more interesting than the other realities they may have found themselves.
A thin leather lining runs the length of the cape and represents the path of one's life. At the base of the piece, the journey concludes as the single leather strip opens up to a multitude of fringe pieces, all on an equal plane. The concluding fractions of fabric represent the lateral potentialities of one's existence, each as distinct and possible as the next.
In 1884 Edwin Abbot explored the world of a Flatlander, a character only able to perceive the world in two dimensions. He detailed the character's experience as one of lines and points. A solid block would appear as a thin line, emerging out of emptiness, maintaining its form as a thin line until disappearing just as suddenly. Similarly, a sphere passing through our flatlander's two-dimensional lens will appear first as a single point, then grow, appearing as a line until - at its apex - it shrinks back to a single point and dissolves, forever.
A vivid thought, but fortunately not the experience of beings capable of three-dimensional perceptions. Yet, while the modern human is able to perceive depth, he may be just as limited as our Flatlander when compared to entities who introduce a 4th dimension to their perception, that is duration or, time.
Imagine a continuum, which may take the form of something like a tunnel. This tunnel can be thought of as being filled with all the things of experience. Humans perceive the tunnel in successive slivers, like the Flatlander sees objects. We believe only in the existence of the moment in front of us. Mantras such as 'living in the present' show our predilection for the current sliver of observation and impose a discounting of everything outside of it.
In the piece 'Seasons' we explore what it would look like if we could see the entire continuum - all moments of life - at once. We use language from distinct parts of the globe to suggest that spring, summer, winter and fall of every past and future year exist in this very moment. The implication, we think, is quite beautiful.
We experience the building of moments, the accumulation of age. Memories echo experiences once realized and time inevitably moves onward. But is this progression necessarily a linear one?
Suppose we used the alphabet to represent a succession of moments as they are:
The latter represents an irregular experience of time, a flatness that lends itself to an abnormal sense of duality. Moment "B" occurred once in the past, and may occur again in the present. This experience may represent itself as something like the common phenomenon of Deja Vu.
Thus far, satisfactory explanations of these seemingly momentary repetitions of space-time have proved elusive. Moreover, if moment "B" is in actuality not an echo, but a genuine repetition, we might suggest that that it is unable to be influenced - that is, we become aware of the rift after it is too late to act on it. The experiencer is already in "B" unable to change the circumstances to prevent experiencing "B" once more.
Aberrations from linearity may likewise take the form of experience not yet familiar to the experiencer. Perhaps in the manifestation of a present emotion from a future state (i.e. a feeling of sadness that is unjustified given one's current circumstances).
There are many who hold suppositions that the 'energy' one yields to the 'universe' is reciprocated by the 'universe' in the form of realized circumstances. That is - one acting with love, happiness and positivity has been thought to induce a preferential response from the universe. Whereas anger, sadness and depression are thought to induce an undesired state.
If we accept the relationship between an individuals 'energy' and the notion of 'universe' can we question the direction of causality? Perhaps the emotion elicited by the future state manifests the feeling in the present, only later realizing itself in the circumstances.
Could experience be interlaced with momentary leaps to different parts on the timeline of one's life?
In our piece '#34' we offer a seemingly familiar representation of a clock dial interrupted with moments both duplicative and irregular. By visually extending and symbolically obscuring the standard time-keeping structure, we introduce a question: could this be what time really looks like?
In an effort to better understand a featureless concept as inanimate as Time, it may be helpful to apply some more familiar elements.
An obvious option may be an old bearded man with long white hair and a knowing bed of wrinkles that have been gathered through eternity.
Why not a dark haired woman with polished blue skin darker than the hue of genesis. Why not sharp blood-shot eyes or narrow wispy fingers? Should Time beckon with an inviting smile or do fangs and a long drooping tongue thirstily anticipate inevitable destruction.
Why not the head of a frog or a lion juxtaposed with the limbs of a man?
Would the character stand majestically, donning a grand flowing cloak adorned with royal jewels? Would it need armor? Or would the character’s glistening naked body be found savagely prowling the fields on all fours.
Which version is more human?
Should it be?
Either way, it would surely need some kind of material accompaniment. A stick would be fine. What of a scimitar. Maybe a scythe… no, a monocle seems most fitting.
Having drawn on temporal envisages from cultures across the earth, an illustration may come to mind.
Who do you see? Creation or Death? Eternity or eminent Fate?
Take a step back. Are we perceiving time as a fundamental aspect of the universe or is it just an intellectual structure? If the latter, then perhaps a personification of time simply requires a look in the mirror.
#9 Personification incorporates many of these elements to arrive at a vestigial vision of our character. The Latin text adorning the bottom of the piece plays the duel role of observing the one universally accepted attribute while at the same time foretelling its own antiquity. “THE TIMES, THEY CHANGE. AND WE CHANGE WITH THEM”
A common observation is that portions of time move at different paces. It is easy to recall hours and days that have eclipsed with the swiftness of a roman arrow, while others occur so slowly that they leave us in amazement or disbelief. However, a serious inquiry into whether or not time may move at varying degrees is much too quickly dismissed. In “Sundarium” we more fully explore this inquiry.
We have created tangible measurements of existence. The mechanics of a timepiece suggest every hour is the same as before. However, we should remember that these mechanics are convenient representations of man's assumptions regarding the movement of time. In actuality, there is nothing that links the ticking of a clock to the reality of the pace of time. Nature does not know an "hour". These terms are fabricated concepts to better control a fluctuating world.
Sundarium represents the totality of a lifetime. The length offers a beginning and an end with a myriad of experience in-between. The succession of colors clearly segment different periods of one's life - which flow together in seamless adherence despite their distinctiveness. However, it is the varying widths that we find most interesting. The varying robustness represents possibility of differing speeds at which time passes each point.
There is a temporal plane on which existence finds itself. Movement on this plane has been limited to forward and backward, or more colloquially future and past.
But what would it look to take a step to the side. That is, take a step not necessarily out of time, but off of time. To borrow imagery used by Svetlana Boym, this could resemble something like off-stage, off-key, off-beat, or off-color. What would it look like to make a lateral move on this plane, as a rook in the game of chess.
A postulate from physics may offer the closest glimpse to what is being suggested. Suppose you sit on a ship and cast a marble across the deck in the direction of your heading. According to Galilean Relativity, when the ship is traveling at 15 kilometers/hr and the marble is cast at 5kph relative to the ship then that orb would appear to be traveling 15kph to an observer in the ocean. However, according to the special theory of relativity we know light does not observe this law. If you shone a flashlight off the bow of the ship, photons would emit at the speed of light relative to both the ship and the observer in the ocean.
The mind blurs at the notion.
Our piece "Off-Time" attempts to capture the nature of the thought. Movement obscures clarity. The balance between lightness of texture and darkness of textile harmonizes with the shadowy conception of what taking a step to the side of time may resemble.