Thursday, March 19, 2009

rendering geologic time sensible

passing through the Cambrian Manhattan Formation (central park), 2009

Hi Colin,
I'd like to offer a couple of ideas and a project I am working on in response to your provocation.

I just finished a book by Elizabeth Grosz called chaos, territory, art: deleuze and the framing of the earth. In the book she uses the following quote from Deleuze which seems relevant to your provocation:
"To render Time sensible is itself the task common to the painter, the musician, and sometimes the writer. It is a task beyond all measure or cadence"
- Deleuze, Francis Bacon, the Logic of Sensation

Geologic time is a topic that looms large in my imagination right now. Despite an immense gap existing between a human time scale and a geologic time scale, I'm hoping to find ways to make geologic time sensible and relate-able through my work. I think artists such as those you posted in your provocation offer powerful contexts for experiencing sensations of time and change that are graspable by humans (a day at the Lightning Field or time in a river over the course of season). I think this kind of work helps humans re-connect their sense of time with a larger rhythm of the planet. It can be a humbling experience.

I am finding it very difficult to take on something as enormous as "deep time", also known as "vast time" or "infinite time", depending on the source. This is a concept of time that strikes me as out-of-sync with the human, it greatly exceeds us even though we are "of it". Perhaps as much asynchronous as diachronic. I'm drawn to this concept of vast time because I feel that contemporary humans could greatly benefit from having a deeper relationship and awareness of our "passing" through the time that makes the earth --- something incredibly brief and momentary within this immensely larger scale. It truly is a miracle that we even get to exist at all! Perhaps in turn, such sensations might not only create a context for considering the immense impact that our contemporary selves continuously have on the earth (and the time span that this impact will last) but also restore some basic, but powerful sensations such as wonder and awe in response to our very existence (within this incredibly long time scale). At least, this is the effect geologic time is having on me as I learn more...

I've started a series of images that are called "humans passing through the geologic". They are about specific places and moments in time, but also about the immense spans of time that have lead up to and will exist after the moment and place as "documented". I'd love to have some feedback on them. The link to the gallery and descriptive text for the project can be found here.

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