Filed under: Uncategorized
Filed under: Uncategorized
Next week, a feral day is coming to a calendar near you.
Welcome to “intercalary day,” also known as a leap day. It arrives this Monday, February 29th. We are feeling very lucky that the calendars are aligning, so to speak, as this special day happens to occur during our Living Deep Time Year 000001 project.
Given our ongoing research on all kinds of time, we’ve been giving extra attention to anything that helps frame and illustrate the creeping misalignment of standardized human time. Our current 2000 year old calendar was instituted by Julius Caesar and refined by papal proclamation (by Pope Gregory XIII) in 1582 to include leap years. This innovation of the Gregorian calendar reflects one human attempt to keep our lives running steadily and “on time.” American colonies didn’t adopt the calendar until 1752.
It actually takes approximately 365.242189 days (or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds) for Earth complete one orbit around the Sun. That’s a number that doesn’t divide nicely into the 24 hour intervals that some humans have assigned to what we call a day. If we didn’t add a leap day every four years, our calendar year would “lose” 6 hours annually. After 100 years, we’d be “off” by around 24 days. Ironically, even with the complex system of leap years, the Gregorian calendar requires future humans to drop a day in about 3,000 years.
What we find most inspiring about February 29th, and leap days in general, is that they are “inserted” into the otherwise standard Gregorian calendar in an effort to materially re-connect our daily lives to their literal, spatial and temporal connections to the sun — and all the useful meanings that our planet’s location in space affords for human life and culture (seasons, months, myths, rituals, metaphors, etc.).
We invite you to take some leaps on Monday. Instead of pondering the leaky nature of calculated time, re-sync with the driver of our evolutionary temporal rhythms — the sun. You’ll realize that February 29 isn’t really a “bonus day.” There’s really no more time than usual in existence this month (even though if you’re working on Monday, you’ll be getting an extra day of pay this year). Consider astrophysicist Adam Frank’s point that “There are simply the Nows, nothing more, nothing less.” And take a moment to leap into the comments of zen master Dōgen (made 800 years earlier):
“Real existence is only this exact moment, all moments of existence-time are the whole of time, and all existent things and all existent phenomena are time. The whole of existence, the whole universe, exists in individual moments of time. Let us pause to reflect whether or not any of the whole of existence or any of the whole of the universe has leaked away from the present moment of time.” (from Chapter 11 of Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō, “Uji”).
artist Yves Klein leaps into the void, Le Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void);
Photomontage by Shunk Kender of a performance by Klein at Rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, October 1960
Filed under: Uncategorized
digital copy of postcard dispatch #1, from Living Deep Time Year 000001
The first round of postcard dispatches for the Living Deep Time Year 000001 project are in the mail and should be reach their destinations soon, just in time for the start of the Lunar New Year on February 8th. This month’s postcard is the first of four that we will send out this year. And as promised, we are also sharing digital versions of these postcards to all, here on FOP.
The postcard dispatches are original works of mail art that share a practice that anyone can try out as possible ways to live, experience, and get to know new and wildly deep aspects of time. Each practice will be something that we have discovered during our year-long research process for the Living Deept Time Year 000001 Project.
As our last post explained, we’ve been thinking a lot about the multiplicities of time and have been attempting to pay attention to temporalities beyond those that modern clocks and Gregorian calendars track and calculate. This takes practice.
back of postcard dispatch #1, from Living Deep Time Year 000001
Over the past month, we discovered that we have a tendency to “come back onto” linear, standardized time each time we look at the clock on our phones. So, for this first postcard dispatch wecreated an artwork for each of our backers (and a digital copy for all FOP readers. It can be used as a home screen on smart phones. The image on the postcard visually suggests the multiplies of “nonhuman” timescales, temporalities, and timescapes that are entangled with the one represented on our clocks. It’s a poetic reminder that the time we’re calling here “human standard time” isn’t the only kind of time. For us, having this image appear each time we want to know the time has actually helped us practice new kinds of time. We hope it does for you as well.
postcard dispatch #1 as iPhone lock screen, from Living Deep Time Year 000001
The following two digital images are available as open source downloads. Feel free to share and distribute them widely. If you use one as your home screen image, let us know if and how it helps you tune into new and other tempos and realities of time.
all images FOP 2016
Filed under: Uncategorized
the times of all things and beings pass around and through us
9 minutes, 44 seconds, one continuous line, 1-5-002016, smudge
When we first arrived at our residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI),* we weren’t sure where or how to begin living out the first days of our year-long project, Living Deep Time Year 000001.
There was no switch that we could flip and suddenly make “deep time” accessible to us. So we began reading. Our list included Paul Kingsnorth’s essay “The Witness”, which appeared in Tricycle last spring. We had read the piece months ago, but now, on second reading, a particular section stood out. In the closing, Kingsnorth describes a personal question of what he could “do” in the face of so much environmental loss. A zen teacher offers him the following advice:
“… sit with it. Sit with what is, and what you are, and watch it. If you are concerned about the forest, go to the forest, sit with the forest, and pay attention. And then you may know what to do.”
We swapped out the word “forest” for “time.” Suddenly, this simple advice offered us seemingly obvious footing for how to begin our work this year. We copied out the following words and hung them at the entrance to our studio:
“… sit with it. Sit with what is, and what you are, and watch it. If you are concerned about time, go to time, sit with time, and pay attention. And then you may know what to do.”
Before we could make or understand anything about the project we were undertaking, we needed to sit with time itself and pay close attention to it.
In the past ten years we’ve thought a great deal about time, but always in relation to the challenges of designing for long spans of time, or the impacts human activities on planetary systems for deep geologic futures, or our attempts to imagine geologic histories. We often did this thinking while in motion, conducting research or driving through the American West.
Now, for this project, could we “just” sit with the on-flow of this moment? Hang out with the things and beings that were producing the human and non-human temporalities unfolding around and through us? Such an approach felt foreign, wide open, and fantastic.
Over the past five weeks, we’ve done a lot of sitting with spaces, silences, people and things as they produced their various temporal durations, speeds, scales, intensities, styles. We’re not sure that much of what has resulted constitutes “work.” But we are doing time in new ways. And days have felt meaningful and generative in new ways.
Some outcomes: A daily practice has emerged as the process of drawing one continuous line until a very long sheet of paper is filled. We time each line’s emergence as a way of “sitting” — and moving — with the minutes it takes to make the line. We’ve also “sat” with the concept and memory of “ten minutes” by writing the words “ten minutes” over and over until ten minutes expires on the clock. We’ve watched clouds in the New Mexico sky change shape and size radically from minute to minute, dissolve from freezing fog to crystalline blue. And we’ve intentionally witnessed a sunrise or sunset nearly everyday.
winter tree, one continuous line, 4 min., 10 sec., 12-29-002016, smudge studio
We continue to feel like complete beginners in our efforts to sit with various events of ongoing change that produce what we call time, and to “live time differently.” We quickly realized that contemporary American culture has taught us little about sensing timescapes that are other than our own habitual,”Western,” human-centric temporalities which are typically directed towards productivity, efficiency, deadlines, and punctuality.
One of our initial attempts to think outside of the steady stream of standardized time that is our usual temporal habitat was to research uniform time keeping. We realized just how arbitrary it is. The Western Gregorian calendar has been in use only since 1582. That’s just over 400 years out of the planet’s 4.6 billion year history. And it’s far from the only calendric system still in use. The wikipedia page for Gregorian calendar lists approximately 30 other calendars that are running concurrently with the dominant system. These other calendars are all, of course, human-generated as well. But their multiplicity reminds us that we humans have many, if not infinite, choices in how we might live and make sense of time. The Holocene calendar, for example, tells us that this year is 12,016 of the “Human Era.” This calendar places the first year near the beginning of the Neolithic revolution and “makes for easier geological, archaeological, dendrochronological and historical dating, as well as that it bases its epoch on an event more universally relevant than the birth of Jesus.”
Early in our residency at SFAI, we decided to make a concerted effort not to live solely on “human time.” This meant, among other things, disrupting our habits of looking at clocks and cell phones the first thing in the morning. We started to feel that morning glances at the cell phone inadvertently pulled us back onto human-centric time, that particular experience of time that is filled with self-referential narratives, rituals, functions and purposes which quickly take hold of our attention and go on to fill out the entire day in all the “normal” ways. But there’s more to time than this.
The day after we arrived in New Mexico, Roy Scranton’s latest opinion piece was published in the New York Times, titled: “We’re Doomed. Now What?” The short excerpt below made it onto our studio wall, and into our sitting with time process:
“…it’s at just this moment of crisis that our human drive to make meaning reappears as our only salvation … if we’re willing to reflect consciously on the ways we make life meaningful … and what we do every day, day to day, and how we do it … then it’s also true that we hold within ourselves the power to change our lives — wholly, utterly — by changing what our lives mean … We need to work together to transform a global order of meaning focused on accumulation into a new order of meaning that knows the value of limits, transience and restraint… Most important, we need to … understand that truth is found not in one perspective but in their multiplication, not in one point of view but in the aggregate, not in opposition but in the whole. We need to learn to see not just with Western eyes but with Islamic eyes and Inuit eyes, not just with human eyes but with golden-cheeked warbler eyes, coho salmon eyes, and polar bear eyes, and not even just with eyes at all but with the wild, barely articulate being of clouds and seas and rocks and trees and stars...” Roy Scranton, “We’re Doomed. Now What?” NY Times, December 21, 2015
Scranton’s words invite us to set out into our daily lives and boldly begin to question what meanings various kinds of time might offer to us. What practices and experiences might we invent to help us sense and hold connections to nonhumans and to the multiplicities of time that they produce both “for” us and without any regard to us? We began to sit with such questions as we sat with time.
We quickly realized we would never be able to “sit with the time of the golden-cheeked warbler” if we didn’t regulate how much we allowed ourselves to be consumed by one single version of time — human time. So each day, we set aside 30 minutes to an hour and attempted to think in terms of at least two non-human scales — one “ephemeral” and one “geologic/cosmological.” We did that by trying to attune to something other than the human world. We gravitated to the things before us that we typically overlooked or took for granted as affordances that seemed to require no attention from us. Suddenly, we had strange sounding questions to ask them, such as: “What is the time of this peanut I’m about to eat?” Turns out, peanuts have been part of the planetary system for over 7,500 years. Their leaves are highly attuned to the time of sunlight and close up at night (nyctinastic). We switched our attention and questions, then, to a less ephemeral, more geologic/cosmological temporal scale: “This air I’m breathing…what is the time of the atmosphere?” Unlike the peanut, the Earth’s atmosphere is nearly as old as the planet. It’s material makeup is intimately linked to the peanut, via nitrogen. The atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen. Peanuts fix some of that nitrogen to the soil they grow in, “enriching” it for plants. It seemed magical to serendipitously learn that the evolutionary systems of peanuts and the atmosphere are deeply connected by the slow, evolutionary force of time on this planet. But all beings and things share in that “magic.” Right now, the time of the Earth’s atmosphere is speeding up. The speed of the changes it’s undergoing seem likely to outstrip the abilities of more ephemeral things (like many plants) to co-evolve with it.
After several weeks of these practices, now, when we look at the clocks on our phones, a “feral” thought arises: “This digital clock is keeping ‘human standard time’ – but I’m not actually living only on that anymore!” Each glance at the clock is becoming more and more the occasion for making a choice: Will I re-enlist the participation of my brain and body in the production and living of contemporary habits of time (human standard time, Anthropocenian time)?
Living according to how modern technologies are producing contemporary human standard time can be extremely useful and meaningful. It allows us to connect and align with people, places and things that we care about deeply. But there are innumerable timescapes of things and beings other than ourselves that have the potential to be extremely meaningful to human lives. Some are undergoing disruptions and disturbances —fibrillations — because of intense temporal pressures from human timescapes.
And so, the practices continue.
We’ve begun to check email less often. We’re seeking less informational “instant gratification” from our digital devices and the internets. We’re choosing to take more time with the information that does make it through. Instead of speed-reading our emails and immediately, distractedly moving on, we recently tried out a different approach. We took 20 minutes and spent those minutes looking at just one photo from a large group that our friends had sent us from a trip to Newfoundland last summer. During their trip, they had documented icebergs that had broken off of Greenland and floated past the Canadian coast as they melted. We spent 20 minutes with the image below. We looked at this singular iceberg’s contours, its colors. We imagined the time that its changing was producing: a temporality that was now accelerating, disappearing. We thought about how our friends had been there in person to see this event of change-as-time, time-as-change.
iceberg off Newfoundland, image courtesy Valerie Triggs and Michele Sorensen
Other things and beings are producing other temporalities that are now unfolding around us, concurrently with “ours,” running alongside and through us and everything else. Many of our “modern” cultural activities don’t encourage us to meaningfully note or pay attention to how our individual life’s time is enmeshed in the wildly disparate times of others’. Our project is based on the hunch that the forces and effects of feral temporalities will command human attention more and more directly in the near future. Personally-felt pressures of others’ temporalities might encourage humans to wake up to the fact that the Anthropocene is not only about human impact on the planet. It is also about a great new humbling of humanity by non-standardized temporalities and changes which are now being produced by both domesticated and untamed planetary systems.
It takes time and effort to pay deep attention to what we often mistakenly think of as the rest of the world. When we do, at first, much of the world may appear to be mute. But the planet’s uncountable temporalities deliver into each present moment a great deal of information (potential knowledge) that humans might find useful, if not crucial, if we attend to it. Much of how we humans do time is a choice and habit, not a necessity. We are all beginners at living time in, and as, the Anthropocene.
*Sincere thanks to the incredibly supportive staff and residents at the Santa Fe Art Institute. The work and quality of time that we lived during our residency has set the foundation for this year-long project. Being in-residence made it possible for us to, literally, live time differently in incredibly productive and generative ways. We are grateful.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Mt. Daimonji, Kyoto, Japan (大文字山), FOP 2015
We made it! The Living Deep Time Year project was a success and we thank all those who supported the project, spread the word and contributed so generously. We are about to begin a month-long residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, and today, Winter Solstice, we start our research and experiments with time.
The exact moment of the solstice occurs at 4:48 UT, or 9:48 MT for us in New Mexico (confirm your time zone here). The etymology of the word solstice contains the Latin words for “sun” and “stationary,” as the sun appears to “stand still” in our sky at this time of year. This is the perfect day for us to begin living our deep time year.
Even if we can’t inhabit or visit a monument that celebrates and acknowledges our alignment with the Sun on this day (as many ancient peoples did), winter solstice is an appropriate day to make note of the sunlight that continuously beams our way. Here on Earth, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve no doubt noticed the late sunrises, early sunsets, and low arc of the sun as it crosses the sky. Around the December solstice, you can see your longest noontime shadow of the year (and shortest in the Southern Hemisphere).
Earth will be at it’s closest point to the Sun in early January. This means that despite the short spans of daylight this time of year, our solar days, the interval from one solar noon to the next (which clocks don’t measure) are actually at their longest.
When we’re closest to the sun, our planet is moving a little faster than average in its orbit. That means our planet is traveling through space a little farther than average each day. The result is that Earth has to rotate a little farther on its axis for the sun to return to its noontime position. Hence the longer solar day. –EarthSky
Enjoy the extra 30 seconds!
For us, thanks to the Living Deep Time Year 000001 project, next month is a rare and precious opportunity to retreat. It’s time for us to turn off our phones and rethink how we do time within our daily lives. It’s time to pay close attention to rhythms of light and wild temperature fluctuations. It’s time to observe change unfolding around the world — and design aesthetic responses. And it’s time for us to give total focus towards building a calendar that can provide relief and wonder for everyday life in the Anthropocene.
For over ten years we have sent out year-end photo-based postcards to mark the change of year, typically with a theme pertaining to landscape, travel, and time that we sense might be inflecting our work for the coming year. This year’s card, seen above, is more interactive than usual.
We wish you the very best in discovering and living out what time is for.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Lunar Crater, Nevada, image FOP
We’ve received heartfelt comments from many backers about their own dreams for living time differently in the Anthropocene, and because of that, we believe in the meaning of this project more than ever.
- redirect our habits about time into wildly new directions and meanings.
- re-think how we currently live and frame the “hours” of a day.
- step out of time as it’s currently dictated by our digital devices.
- learn more about how ancient humans and non-humans have marked time.
- pay attention to how time assembles with strange new weather patterns and rearranges seasons.
- learn more about how our planet meets vast scales of time as it moves through our solar system.
- look up, out, beyond, inward, and spend creative time with time’s vagaries.
And, we especially are ready to sit with Anthropocenian time and be humbled and inspired by the challenging ways that it is playing out for humans and non-humans around the world.
We want to relay stories to you from our process and make something out of what we experience: a deep time calendar for daily life.
In the final hours of our campaign, you can make all the difference.
Please activate your networks, share the story of our project and join us in setting new kinds of time into motion.
Your support unleashes the POWER of art to carry us – with meaning and wonder – into the turbulence of Anthropocenian time itself.
You can give two artists the RESOURCE OF TIME to imagine and create a calendar for marking and living Anthropocene standardly strange time (AS2T).
Filed under: Uncategorized
Three different times at once, Geneva 1865, image: Bibliothèque de Genève (thank you to Clay Eicher for the reference).
Geneva 1865. Timekeeping was still a little leaky, a little imperfect and a little feral.
We love the above image. It’s a perfect illustration and timely reminder of how recently humans standardized time. Just over 150 years ago, even “modern” humans lived in an imperfectly timed world. As the image shows, 11:30 in Paris was ten minutes to noon in Geneva and 11:55 in Bern — simultaneously.
Standardized time has enabled incredible cultural and technological innovations, including global travel and logistical systems. Yet, standardized time, so recently laid over human life and experience, remains one of those aspects of modernization that many people struggle with.
Time is one the most fundamental of all human experiences. And it also can be one of the most mercurial. For us humans, time can “pass” quickly, slowly, or fall out of sync with the hands on the clock face. People describe drifting in time, losing track of time in conversations and activities, and transcending time with each other. But a simple glance at the clock can pull us back “onto” standardized time – and out of embodied time.
Most of the time, most of us try to sync our daily live rhythms with standardized time. We try to arrive “on time” for 9 to 5 jobs. We try to remember future appointments and we try to eat and sleep at “regular” hours. And we try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to rationalize and adapt to the extra hour that comes and goes each year around an event called Daylight Savings.
A modern jet-lagged traveler arrives disoriented and confused. She looks to the clock in her new environment for grounding, only to realize she has arrived in a place that’s already living tomorrow. Her yesterday has been lost to standardized, gridded time, whose expectations, limits, and invested interests are rarely scaled to individual human lives and their locales.
Today, more and more humans can relate to the distracted, even feverish “running out of time” sensations that dominate modern experiences of time. Contemporary life can feel like a race against deadlines and the endless distractions along the way. Many of us have tried to “detox” from our addictions to speed and almost instant results, made worse by various digital devices. Time during this Great Acceleration barrels forward and compounds up the Keeling curve.
As artists, we’re concerned about how time figures as a force of change in the Anthropocene. We sense an urgency about its real, material repercussions in our daily lives and planetary futures. With many of the Anthropocene’s threats to human and nonhuman lives, time is of the essence. Surely, activists urge, we must work even faster, ironically, to somehow slow down the earth-magnitude changes underway.
But, perhaps our most vital task and opportunity as artists|humans is to put ourselves on something other than accelerated, standardized time.
What if, even as forces of the Anthropocene tip and accelerate, we directed our brains, bodies and minds toward time’s varieties – its many particularities that are always available to our actions and imaginations and always close at hand?
Arguably, generations of acculturation to life on standardized, measured time hobbles humans’ abilities to acknowledge and appreciate our own species’ place and scale in relation to time’s manifold powers and effects.
It might seem counterintuitive to want to try living daily life according to various scales and speeds of time just as the urgencies of “running out of time” in the Anthropocene (extinctions, CO2 levels, rising sea levels) are sweeping us up. Yet, this might be the perfect moment to try to do time differently as geo-shaping inhabitants of this planet. After all, our newly available understandings and emerging global awarenesses of time’s pressure on planetary systems give us unprecedented ways and means to relate to time as humans.
One potential outcome of the Anthropocene could be that we humans gain deeper realizations of varieties of time as they concurrently unfold — including geologic time. We know that plastics take immensely longer spans of time to decompose than do organic materials. We know that tectonic plates jerk forward or backward at intervals that are scaled to hundreds and thousands of years of human time. Trees? They have their own internal and external timeframes. Seasons regularly, and more and more “irregularly,” do not conform to our modern gridded calendar systems. Many of the material conditions of contemporary life are not exactly timed (birth, death, hunger, sleep, pleasure, harvest) and will never meet the expectations of standardized time.
Time doesn’t always compute.
Our Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 project will explore just this: the simultaneity of many scales, tempos, and rhythms of time. And we will address the necessity – for cultural and psychological moorings, physical health, environmental policies, politics, economics – of acknowledging that the faces of time are variable, poetic and strange. There are uncountable crossings and twists of time that contemporary clocks and calendars can’t measure or account for.
Over the course of one Earth orbit around the sun (aka one human year), starting winter solstice 002016 we will set out into non-standardized time and we will conduct field research there. We’ll explore how to access and illustrate un-grid-able experiences and sensations of time, how to appreciate and co-exist with aspects of time that can’t be plotted on standardized clocks and calendars, how to allow time’s vagaries to be real for us even as they remain independent from us. We want to design a truly contemporary calendar that opens up our imaginations and our daily lives both to deep time’s vast cyclical sweeps and to ephemeral time’s intimate and immediate shaping of each here and now–and we want to notice how each reshapes the other.
Some human cultures attuned themselves incredibly well to vast cosmological flows and alignments that are related our species’ diverse conceptions of time (Chaco Canyon, Stonehenge, Mayan pyramids). They scaled collective life to the comings and goings of sunlight as our spins through space produce cycles of sunlight and darkness, seasonal change, and ice age glaciers.
But in 002015, more is at play.
In addition to living within the temporal cycles of the Earth’s solar orbit, we live within the temporal spasms of the Anthropocene.
An ability to experience and attune to how time on Earth has become the entanglement of cosmological and human-made tempos is key how our species will set up its global futures.
It’s time to live with the strangeness of standardly variable time present and future.
What skills and capacities might we want to have at hand, as individuals and societies, 50 years from now when much of our own species’ habitat is unrecognizable to those of us living today?
We (smudge) are setting out to conduct field research into feral ways of being-in-time. We’re going to try to notice and imagine time in ways that our current calendars make extremely difficult for us to do. We’ll design, live out, and then share daily life practices that have the potential to unleash time from our current calendars.