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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.
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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).
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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.
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sekki (24 seasons of Japan), FOP 2014
There’s a long and celebrated tradition of seasonal attunement in Japan. So much so, that ancient calendars actually name a new “season” every five days — resulting in the shichijuuni-ko, or 72 mini seasons of Japan. This highly nuanced calendar takes off from the 24 divisions of the calendar year, or sekki (24 seasons). According to the 24 season calendar, those of us living in the northern hemisphere are presently in ritto/立冬, or the “start of winter.” Each of the 24 seasons is further divided into three even more nuanced periods, resulting 72 seasons in all. According to this division of time, earlier this week (November 12-16th) we completed the chi hajimete kōru/地始凍 or “ground starts to freeze” season.
The 24 seasons were plotted on an ancient lunar calendar. It was made to conform to the Gregorian calendar in the 1873 during the “modernization” of Japan. A perfect translation from a lunar to a solar calendar is impossible. The differences caused most traditional Japanese holidays and seasons to shift in time and show up on the new solar calendar months later than their original seasonal timings and attunements.
For example, Tanabata, the “star festival” was historically celebrated on the seventh day of the 7th month, which would occur during the autumn of the original calendar. Today, it’s celebrated during the summer, on July 7th.
Here at FOP/smudge, we’re inspired by the 24 and 72 seasons of Japan for multiple reasons—including their idiosyncrasies. The weather has always been highly unpredictable, but for ancient people, noting its general patterns has been useful, if not necessary, for the production of food and other survival issues. Beyond the obvious practicalities, humans have also derived a great deal of joy in paying attention to the changes that compose the natural world. Seasonal awareness might start with the weather, but it goes far beyond it. A great deal of cultural meaning surrounds seasonal awareness (harvest and planting festivals and rituals, songs, poetic conventions, etc.).
Arguably, the practice of noting the changes in plants, animals, landscape, clouds, and temperatures that unfold within one of the 72 seasons–a single five-day span–brings a laser like awareness to unfolding difference. More and more frequently in the Anthropocene, weather and seasonal patterns are falling out of sync with what our Gregorian calendars indicate should be happening outside our windows. Paying close attention to seasonal change today means noticing that the seasonal sensibilities and expectations, and wardrobes, we’ve built up in the short span of our own lifetimes are “off.” The usual month for vibrant fall colors in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, is October, but here we are over half way through November and trees remain vibrant and surprisingly full (perhaps because we’re in the midst of the warmest year on record?).
Our research for designing our Deep Time Calendar Year 000001 will include inventing and enacting practices that will aid and re-enliven our own attunements to seasonal and meteorological change both within and as the Anthropocene. We’ll use them to closely observe micro-changes arriving into daily life and our local place–but we’ll do that within the context of deep time and planetary change.
We sense that close observation of the Fifth Season–the weather that is the Anthropocene–can be massively useful, if not vital. As can be the wonder (and disbelief) that results from becoming aware of what is actually observed. In the last three days in New York City, temperatures have swung from 13 degrees above average to three degrees below average — all under consistently clear and sunny skies. By paying attention to the speeds, scales, and extremes of such variations, we attune to changes that are ramifying around the globe. We see “here” always in relation to elsewhere. Swings back and forth between summer-like and fall-like days such as we’ve been having this November in NYC makes us suspect a year in the Anthropocene might be marked, erratically, by many more than 72 seasons.
Recently in Japan, there has been a resurgence of interest in the old calendar systems. The Beautiful Living Research Lab in Tokyo has invented the gorgeous Kurashi no Koyomi (Everyday Life Almanac). It consists of an incredible smart phone app and website (in Japanese) that provides both the history and background to each of the 72 seasons every five days — along with photographs and recipes for seasonal foods.
As a result of our year of Living Deep Time, we hope to generate a calendric mash-up that is up to the strangeness and wildness of time’s forces in the Anthropocene. We take inspiration from projects like the Everyday Life Almanac. The embodied research practices we invent to guide our design process will be what we relay to our project backers as postcard dispatches. They’ll appear in mailboxes in the form of limited edition mail art. Each dispatch will propose a specific practice for its recipient to try out—something that we will have discovered through our research and design process that we can offer as a provocation for experiencing and getting to know new and wild aspects of Anthropocenian time.
We can’t wait to start this research, send these dispatches, make this calendar — and live time differently. It’s the most excited we’ve been about any project we’ve embarked on to-date. We feel that this is vital work that needs to be done right now.
We know it’s a busy time of year — with impending holidays, accumulations of overdue work, final weeks of the semester, overflowing inboxes — deadlines and responsibilities. All of this is real, BUT, AND, it’s exactly these realities of life and time that we need to swerve, redirect, and reorient in order to live within, and as, the Anthropocene.
Contemporary humans need to unleash new (and older) sensations of time and ways to live it. This is the core potential of our project — to generate experiences, words and sensations that offer real, practical means for differently navigating the strangely timed world we live in now.
We’re one week into our campaign for the project, and thrilled to be 35% funded. Thanks for spreading the word and sharing the project — and please consider joining us in living time differently in the Anthropocene.
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We’re all living on Anthropocene Standardly Strange Time (AS2T). But our calendars don’t get that.
We (smudge/FOP) want to create a contemporary calendar. A calendar that tells meaningful stories about the time changes happening all around us. A deep time calendar that provides relief and wonder for everyday life in the Anthropocene.
If our campaign for Living Deep Time Year 000001 succeeds, we will spend the 362.2425 days of 002016 researching and inventing ways to live time on our planet differently—ways that are up to the radical newness of what time means in the Anthropocene.
And then, we’ll use what we experience and learn to make a new calendar called Deep Time Calendar Year 000001. We’ll share it with YOU (and the rest of the world) on Kickstarter in late 002016.
We have some great rewards for our backers, including original works of art, interactive mail art field dispatches from year-long our process, and complimentary copies of calendar that results from our project.
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We’re pleased to pass on the news that Kris Timken’s book, The New Explorers: Making Meaning in the 21st Century American Landscape, will be launched November 19 in Portland, Oregon.
The launch will include a panel discussion among Kris Timken, artists Camille Seaman, Linda K. Johnson and curator Prudence Roberts from the Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland. The event is free and open to the public, please come if you are in the area.
Kris first contacted FOP/smudge in 2012 for an interview to be included in the book, and since then she has been incredibly dedicated to bringing the project into print. The book includes a foreword by Lucy Lippard and is currently available for pre-order.
We applaud Kris’s tireless efforts and are incredibly honored to be included in this collection of artist. We have been inspired by each of them: Cynthia Hooper, Rachel Sussman, Camille Seaman, Allison Davies, Sarah Kanouse, Amy Balkin, Sune Woods, Linda K. Johnson, Christy Ghast, Amy Stein and Marie Lorenz.
Matthew Coolidge, founder of The Center for Land Use and Interpretation, has offered this endorsement:
This book offers a compelling selection of some innovative creative interpreters of the American land. Through their endeavors, these inspired artists help widen the spectrum of perceptual possibilities. They evoke the charisma and courage of the original explorers of the new nation, but probe instead into the world that we made, collectively – a constructed landscape whose complexities and mysteries are as rich and varied as its inhabitants.
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From October 6-16, 2015, the Atomic Photographers Guild will stage an exhibition at the Old Bank of Japan, Hiroshima Branch. The building survived the atomic bombing in 1945 and is presently the site of an Arts Center.
We’re very pleased to have our work included in the exhibition, which includes a selection of work by Guild photographers from the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia and Japan. The exhibition addresses a variety of subjects ranging from nuclear facilities to Hibakusha. The exhibition also highlights 40 works from Patrick Nagatani’s Nuclear Enchantment project.
There are several other events and special projects associated with the exhibition, including a slide show projected on a screen made of recycled paper peace cranes. In addition, a project entitled, “Trinity Site Monument @ Hiroshima 2015,” invites visitors to the exhibition to take part in erecting a monument. More information can be found on the Atomic Photographers Guild website.