04.09.2017, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Eight minutes ago, photons of sunlight that took thousands of years to migrate from the sun’s core left its surface and traveled towards Earth. As a result, everything we see is bathed in eight-minute-old light. The Last Eight Minutes: Everything We Take to be a Constant is Changing, a project by smudge studio, invites visitors to re-establish an awareness of our direct connection to the sun, which has fueled planetary systems on Earth for the past 4.6 billion years. Photons (the smallest amount of light perceptible to our eyes) arrive every micro-second on Earth. Each particle/wave is new and different from the one that arrived micro-seconds before. The sunlight we experience as “given” or “stable” is constantly changing.  Many Earth systems are currently undergoing massive reconfiguration within the Anthropocene.  Far from “stable givens,” they are composed of highly complex and changing material realities.

The Last Eight Minutes invites participants and viewers to pause with and aesthetically experience the continuous arrival of photons from the sun, which take approximately eight minutes to travel to Earth. It also invites viewers to imagine and consider a moment in the future that will eventually occur — the instant when the Sun emits the last photon to deliver light to Earth.

The Last Eight Minutes will be staged as an ephemeral micro-production at the former Pfizer factor on April 23, 002017, as part of the group exhibition con•tin•u•ums (time beyond lifetimes) curated by Patrick Jaojoco. This is the third in an ongoing series of micro-productions that smudge studio inaugurated in early 002017 entitled CONVEYANCE: what’s here. The micro-productions are part of a multi-year shape shifting series of assemblages that meet the changing conditions of wherever they are staged.  The project results from a decade of work made in response to planetary changes unfolding at geologic scales and uncertain, wildly open futures in the making.

In this project, smudge studio experiments with diverse forms—architectural, gestural, theatrical, conceptual—to create participatory installations that function as studio + teahouse + place of contemplation and refuge.

The April 23rd event is offered as a focused context for experiencing singular moments of change across eight minutes.  It draws upon and translates aspects of the Japanese tea ceremony, including the brewing and drinking of green tea and the offering of hospitality to strangers and guests.

Sweets by wagashi asobi, Tokyo, were designed and made especially for The Last 8 Minutes.

By way of this micro-production, smudge studio offers the question: “What is the I that sees through eight-minute old light?”

Limited space available for the April 23rd event, seatings at 11am and 12pm. Please RSVP to

What’s here: Unrepeatable Ephemeral Acts
01.19.2017, 9:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

planCONVEYANCE \what’s here/ staged on January 11, 002017 at SFAI

Earlier this month, we made our first-attempt to stage small, ephemeral, unrepeatable acts with the intention of acknowledging and living the Anthropocene. This first gesture drew from a decade of smudge studio’s experiences in addressing planetary-scale geologic change and the uncertain, wildly open futures that are now in the making.

We’ve come to sense that small, ephemeral, unrepeatable acts attuned to specific situations, moments in time, and assemblages of people could be the most vital acts for us to perform, as artists, in response to currently unfolding material, social and political realities.


CONVEYANCE \what’s here/ took place as an hour-long micro-production in the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) Gallery.  We had been in residence for three weeks, and the event arose from the conditions that shaped our time in New Mexico and from the people we met while there. Immediately after the event, we dismantled the string and paper structure that we designed to house the work and its participants. We consider this “production” of What’s Here: Unrepeatable Ephemeral Acts a first iteration of what we hope to be many subsequent and diverse reiterations.


What’s Here will briefly, and repeatedly, take form at sites and moments when we feel the necessity to create and pause within an ephemeral assemblage of place, people, events, materials.  Each staging will offer, simultaneously, both refuge from and exposure to emerging (and often quite alarming) material conditions of contemporary life.

The designed, built, and/or enacted “spaces” will function as part studio, part teahouse and part zendo, and will be contingent on contexts and circumstances. At times, the primary gesture will be architectural.  Sometimes, it will be embodied actions and movements. And at other times, it might be primarily conceptual in nature.

Each iteration of What’s Here will be intentionally composed — a shifting assemblage of those who attend, what they bring with them, and the changing conditions that compose the hour(s) during which the micro-production unfolds. Each staging will attend to the highly singular and particular, one-time meeting of human and non-human forces composing the site, its moment and its context.

At SFAI, we convened What’s Here as a floating teahouse of sorts. Eight, thirty-foot strings of jute spanned the gallery, forming a cube-like space and creating a porous structure that offered metaphorical sight-lines into deep histories and futures in the making. Given the thin, barely visible string, humility and attention were required of the guests (SFAI staff and artists-in-residence under the current residency theme of Water Rights) as they stooped and carefully stepped over strings to enter the space. Tea made of the complex tap water of drought-ridden Santa Fe (described in the artist statement below) was prepared and drunk.sfai_micro







sketchplanning sketch for CONVEYANCE \what’s here/

*all images FOP 2017 + sincere thanks to the Santa Fe Art Institute staff for hosting us and to our fellow residents for their participation.

Time Keepers
12.29.2016, 9:06 am
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We modern humans are always looking for a little more time, and 002017 starts off with a slight delay for us to enjoy.

Inhabitants of Earth can luxuriate in an extra moment this New Year’s Eve thanks to Earth’s variable movements. A leap second is being added to all clocks on December 31st at 23:59:60 UTC. This happens at 6:59:60pm in New York City. This little second will be helping keep us in sync with the sun, for all time to come.

What we like most about this insertion of “time” is how directly it illustrates the human-constructed nature of clock-time (which we’ve been calling “Human Standardized Time”) itself.  It’s a nice reminder that clock time is something humans constructed and made up for our own time-keeping purposes.

We “need” to add a leap second because the highly mechanized, precise time keeping methods we’ve created for the sake of global communications don’t sense Earth’s varying speeds. Which means if Earth’s current rate of change rotation stayed the same and we didn’t add a second to our clocks every few years, a few millennia from now (5000 years, to be exact), our clocks would be out of sync with the sun by an hour. We need this little second to maintain a meaningful connection to the vastness of the astronomical environment we evolved in and live by (sun “rising” and “setting” etc.) even if we often forget these material realities and the fact that they aren’t actually about us at all.

From a human perspective situated on Earth, time “is” movement through space around the sun, galaxy, and in its own rotation. These movements change speed. Earth “days” (rotations) are actually slowing down due to the force of ocean tides.  The Earth’s rotation speed also can change due to the distribution of mass in the Earth’s molten outer core, the movement of large masses of ice near the poles, and major earthquakes. Variation is common in Earth’s movements and timings.

If you happen to be one of the brave few who are practicing living time differently this year (everyone is welcome to join in on the fun, anytime) through our Living Deep Time Calendar Year 00001 project, this could be an appropriate week to practice “the times of the Leap Second.” You might want to spend a few days sensing how both the idea, and the human-constructed reality of a single second of clock time ramifies through the first few days of your new year  — and how this second helps Human Standardized Time to maintain its human-Earth connection throughout our next circuit around the sun.



Wonder and meaning that won’t go extinct — even in the Anthropocene
11.25.2016, 4:57 am
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A new year is on the horizon.  smudge studio’s current project, Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001, is an interactive calendar that creates contexts for you to live time creatively and practice time differently in 002017.

Read more about the project and order calendar sets through the smudge website.  Orders placed by December 5, 002016 will ship by December 15th.

Maybe like us, you think it’s time to change the way we humans are living time on this planet.

Maybe like us, you think art can be a mysteriously powerful vehicle for doing just that.

When you practice Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001, you connect to the many, and often strange, time beings beyond yourself.

You put into effect a channel for creating wonder and meaning in your life that won’t go extinct — not even in the Anthropocene.

Live Time Differently this Year
10.31.2016, 10:10 am
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11_kruse Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001

There is one week left to activate your chance to live your own Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001, and gift the experience to friends.  Calendar rewards are available until November 8th via our publications campaign.

38_1from Living Deep time Calendar Year 000001

Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001  includes a set of 46, 4.5” x 5.25” elliptical cards.  The cards are composed of original artwork and photography resulting from our year of performative research.

This calendar doesn’t simply track weeks and months – it puts you in relation to time-scapes that are much larger and much smaller than the ones depicted on usual desk calendars. Activated throughout a year, it offers an intimate experience for sensing how we, and all other beings and things, are made up of the times of other things and beings.

It invites users to sense material connections to the deep geologic past and deep geologic futures.

Its invitation to creative engagement is designed to offer a means for discovering ongoing wonder and appreciation for time’s forces, challenges, and surprises in this new epoch called the Anthropocene.


Practices for Living Time: Amulets for the Anthropocene
10.14.2016, 12:48 pm
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Last weekend we had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop in San Francisco entitled Amulets for the Anthropocene: Practices for Living in and as Change, thanks to an invitation from Professor Stephen Zavestoski at University of San Francisco.  His ambitious, interdisciplinary Davies Seminar entitled Making Sense of the Anthropocene invites students to work at the “intersection of art, activism and academics to find the places where new stories are emerging about who we are, how we might go about living the Anthropocene, and what this means for our future.” The course features a series of guest presenters.

For our “presentation,” we offered an interactive workshop that was staged outdoors in Golden Gate Park.  It began with a demonstration tea ceremony at Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. The garden layout is inspired by Shinto beliefs (spirits manifested in nature) and Buddhist landscape design. Both are the result of cultural practices that hinge on “slow,” close observation and aesthetic contemplation.

garden_gateentrance gate to the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

We designed the workshop out of a sense that there is an urgent need for practices that invite humans to pay close attention to the changes that are the Anthropocene, hold the thought of the reality of this new epoch, and build psychological and emotional capacities to meet and respond creatively to the unstable conditions we will continuously encounter in these new times.

For us, close observation assists in fostering a deeper awareness of what we face as a species and capacities to invent new ways to live the Anthropocene in our daily lives. The act of cultivating psychological, physical and spiritual capacities for co-existing with big and fast change in the Anthropocene are as vital as any infrastructural, scientific, and preparatory/adaptive actions. They generate new sensations and meanings—potentials that open the future to new actions and arrangements—even as the future seems to be closing down.

We see the Japanese garden and tea ceremony as offering cultural practices shaped by awareness of and appreciation for change itself and refined over hundreds, sometimes thousands of years.  They also offer contexts for slowing down and experiencing today’s changing material conditions.

For example, the several centuries-old Japanese tea ceremony is a highly intentional gathering of people who become present to each other for a brief time by sharing hospitality and attuning to seasonal and contextual changes. The ceremony emphasizes the relational effects of intentional gesture and carefully prescribed physical conduct. In the context of our workshop, we offered points of entry for engagement:

  • How a traditional practice such as creating tea sweets to celebrate the nuances of the four “natural” seasons might assist us in attuning to the unprecedented, strange, volatile weather systems of climate change,
  • how performative gestures of hospitality and humility enacted during a tea ceremony might inform and inspire social conduct in times of over-population and limited resources,
  • how a traditional garden’s arrangements of rocks and water might acknowledge their powers as non-human forces, even as the garden functions as an urban park punctuated continuously by smells, sights and sounds of the Anthropocene.

ceremony_tableOmotesenke demonstration table for the tea ceremony

In preparation we sent guests a practice specifically created for the workshop entitled:  Practice for Living Time in and as the Anthropocene.

The practice was created to assist participants in generating ideas, images and objects that could then inform their creation of an Amulet for the Anthropocene.


Before going into the Japanese Garden for the tea ceremony, we invited participants to make a deliberate intention to invent a practice they would activate for themselves over the next hour and a half. They would enact the practice as a way of taking them out of their habitual ways of experiencing, and assisting them in more deliberately sensing changes unfolding around them.

Guests were invited to explore how they might closely observe material conditions (geologic/anthropogenic) assembling around and through them. Such as, sensing how the green, matcha tea is a material that has been exquisitely produced by its producers’ attunements to seasonal changes.  And how our drinking of this imported tea in San Francisco includes entanglements with material realities of global capital, distribution, and consumption. And, also, that all objects around us are entangled with material realities that extend into the times of the deep geologic past as well as the far future.

After a brief introduction we moved into the Japanese Garden. San Francisco’s fleet week events thundered overhead and rendered a potent juxtaposition and sharpened awareness of the active space above us while the Omotesenke tea ceremony demonstration unfolded for guests.




Omamori, a kind of Japanese amulet, is a small ubiquitous pouch found in Japan.  People often purchase them at shrines and temples, attach them to backpacks or purses, and “live with” them for the span of one year. They are believed to offer protection and good luck during this time, a kind of “safe passage” for a certain event or context. After a year they are typically replaced and renewed.

Common omamori include amulets for successful passing of exams, traffic safety, safe childbirth, good health, finding a mate, safe travel.

Following the tea ceremony, and after 30 minutes of taking up the Practice for Living Time in and as the Anthropocene on their own in the Park, workshop participants created amulets for the Anthropocene.


Amulets were made with the intention of “holding the thought” of the Anthropocene’s reality for one year. We asked, how might the creation of this amulet provide relief, wonder and wayfinding for everyday life in the Anthropocene? How might an amulet assist in holding the thought of some material reality or being that was in the midst of undergoing a planetary phase shift? We invited participants to consider setting a reminder on their smart phone for a year from the day, to see how the intentions they expressed through their omamori had unfolded.

The resulting amulets spanned a variety of content and intentions.

We wish for safe passage over the next year for all the amulets created — and offer sincere thanks to Stephen and all workshop participants.

amy_afforestwork-in-progress by Amy Balkin

jasonamulet by Jason Groves

matthewamulet by Matthew Cruz

aaronamulet by Aaron Czerny

amyamulet by Amy Balkin

jeffreyamulet by Jeffrey Blumenthal

ameliaamulet by Amelia Letvin

cameronamulet by Cameron Hughes

A Calendar for Living Times: Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 is ready for publication!
10.04.2016, 10:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

1_1After a year of research, design and production it’s ready for publication — a new calendar for grounding and navigating your life’s time in this strange new epoch of the Anthropocene.

We  launched the publication campaign for our project on Kickstarter, please check it out!   For a small pledge, you will be rewarded with a Living Deep Time 000001 Calendar, shipping by Dec. 15th, just in time for the December solstice.

When we started our research and design process, we had no idea what the Living Deep Time Calendar 000001 would look like or how it might be used. But we knew it would need to be a very different sort of calendar.  Because Earth is undergoing a time change. In fact, geologists say we’ve crossed into an entirely new geologic “season”: the Anthropocene. Time seems to be speeding up, pressing in, running out, intensifying, multiplying its forces and speeds, crisscrossing itself.

We need a strange new calendar for these strange new times. Human Standardized Time isn’t the time habitat our species evolved within. Many things and beings cannot thrive or even live according to its speeds and forces.  Humans included.

We have to adapt.


Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 is a daily practice that can help you adapt your own life’s rhythms to the times of the Anthropocene.

The funds from last year’s Kickstarter campaign allowed us to explore time habitats of the Anthropocene—that unrecognizable new epoch that is “now.” We unleashed our life’s time from our current calendars. We did field research into rich and strange temporalities all around us, and that took us far beyond human standardized time.

Here are some things we realized:

  • When you use any sort of calendar, you’re choosing to practice and perpetuate a certain kind of time.
  • We humans have always been tangled up with time-scapes much larger and much smaller than the ones depicted on our usual desk calendars.
  • We, and all other beings and things, are made up of the times of other things and beings.
  • We, and all things, have material connections to the deep geologic past and are increasingly entangled with deep geologic futures.
  • The times of life forms and material things on our planet are both of us and beyond us. These realizations filled us with wonder and appreciation.

We decided that the Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 could not simply track the weeks and months of standardized human time. It had to be an aesthetic provocation to create new ways of living time in the Anthropocene.

Because what we need is a calendar for co-existing with times beyond ourselves and our own species.

 Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 consists of:

  • a 46 card set, including three introductory cards and 43 poetic images with accompanying text.  They will escort you into encounters with the (often strange) times of a wide variety of things and beings.  Printed on both sides of elliptically shaped, 4.5″ x 5.25″, card stock.
  • naturally finished wood holder for displaying and interacting with the images and text, 
  • cotton-muslin bag to hold the collection of calendar cards,  
  • 6″ x 9″ illustration that you can mark daily to visualize where you are within the time-producing movements of the earth around the sun. 



The 43 calendar cards are your vehicles to:

  • Observe the massive and intimate forces of time within and around you.
  • Wonder at time’s speeds and scales.
  • Draw inspiration from time’s wild creativeness.
  • Navigate big fast change in the Anthropocene.
  • Re-score your own distracted “modern” rhythms.

The Living Deep Time Calendar 000001 includes images and text for the times of:

  • experience
  • fiber optic cables
  • temporary housing
  • Ise Jingu
  • the galactic year
  • the color blue
  • uranium
  • the human body
  • the ancestors
  • the fifth season
  • the hurricane
  • corals
  • kintsugi
  • jellyfish
  • the journey
  • soils
  • the cloud
  • plastic
  • bacteria
  • the zodiac
  • + more!


The Times of Shooting Stars, from Living Deep Time Calendar Year 0000119_1

The Times of Change, from Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001

Maybe like us, you think it’s time to change the way we humans are living time on this planet.

Maybe like us, you think art can be a mysteriously powerful vehicle for doing just that.

When you practice Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001, you connect to the many, and often strange, time beings beyond yourself.

You put into effect a channel for creating wonder and meaning in your life that won’t go extinct — not even in the Anthropocene.

We invite you to activate Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 as a medium for noticing and appreciating wildly diverse speeds, scales, rhythms and durations of time swirling around you, within you, and as you.  Use it as inspiration to create relief, wonder, and livable time in the Anthropocene.