My thoughts on time
Time, most often I think about how I’d like more of it! I think the most interesting idea about time for me is time travel. Ideas brought up by various sci-fi films/series make me wonder about what time travel would be like, whether going against the kill-your-own-grandfather stratagem would create a radical new future or if time is more like a river and it would just find a way around the obstacle.
I’d love to travel forward in time, just to see what mankind does with the technology of today, do we continue destroying the planet or do we find a way to save it? I’d love to pop back in time too and see things like Roman roads being built and compare them to say the M1 now or the National Trust castles when they were at the height of their power.
I find it pretty cool looking at something really old and just imagining all the hundreds of years that an object has been through and all the various people that might have seen and handled it.
I also find it sad when people want to rewrite the past for a better story. For example the current movement to make history taught in schools less ‘imperialistic’ and ‘colonial’. Guess what, we were an Empire, we ruled vast swathes of the planet and we did it using some pretty questionable techniques in some cases but it happened. Whether you love it or hate it, that is our history and we need to learn from it. Statues to great heroes from the past are vandalised by people who read social media fake news about things they don’t understand. Churchill saved our nation from assimilation by a German war machine, yet you see students on the news frantically screaming that he was a right wing oppressor of liberties.
People either do not know or choose to ignore what has happened before and that is the easiest way for our country to get dragged into making the same mistakes all over again.
Have you thought about time in relation to art before?
The only real way in which I have thought about art before is in terms of how it can transport you to a different time and place either of imagination or creation.
A well crafted image/TV series set in a different time can detach you from where you are so completely that looking away from it/coming to the end of a series feels like resurfacing.
An image of a scene from somewhere you have previously experienced can take you back there in an instant. You can smell things, hear and taste things, sensations that may have been lost in a memory until that moment.
Have you already come across pieces that explore what time is?
I have not yet come across any pieces of art that specifically explore what time is. To be honest I generally only look at illustrations related to children’s books or photography on the theme of nature/portraiture.
In a way you could use almost anything and link it to the exploration of time. There is an artist who uses toy Etch-a-Sketch’s to produce portraits of celebrity’s and recreate famous paintings. You could argue that one of his finished Etch-A-Sketches represents time, the time he invested into creating each piece. If you wanted to get philosophical about it you could say that shaking the Etch-a-Sketch and destroying the image on the screen is representative of how time once gone is gone forever.
I had a look around online and discovered an interesting artist called Raghava KK. He creates a lot of works based on the idea of Evolution. Evolution could be applied in several contexts, the one which I think is most common is that of the passing of time.
Hindustan Times. (2019). Exploring evolution through a surreal blend of pop culture. [online] Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/exploring-evolution-through-a-surreal-blend-of-pop-culture/story-iwR7AZqQrM7xA2ock5yhAO.html [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
In the article entitled ‘Exploring evolution through a surreal blend of pop culture’ from 26th August 2015 he explains about his drawing style and the ideas behind his pieces. It was all reading very well until the end when I read a quote that makes me cringe “My paintings are not new media – they are very much the traditional paint on canvas. But the way I see the world is extremely avant-garde.” . With that last line he reminds me of Damien Hirst. This is very likely just as a result of my bias against modern art but what I find myself asking is ‘why do they all want to be some kind of special snowflake?!’
The course folder talks a little about an artist called Tacita Dean who displays animal noises captured on physical tape as a length of tape within a frame. This explores time in several ways. Initially the length of the tape shows the length of the noise that the animal was making. The display of the tape without the accompanying noise means that he viewers mind takes them back to a place where they last heard that noise and plays it for them. From yet another angle the choice to display the tape, a variety which is no longer printed in the UK is a statement on the passing of time as technology has rendered it obsolete. Where would you even start in the quest to play a 16mm tape if you found one at a boot fair?
So yes, Tacita Deans work explores the passage of time from several different angles. Displaying time as a thing which can actually be measured by something physical is an interesting approach. Again though, again I’m struck by how daft I find it that this is called art. I could put my workboots on a pedestal in a gallery and call them ‘war and peace’ (the different injurys the boots have picked up being souvenirs from such destinations as Afghaistan etc, the road to peace being measured in the tread worn away from their soles) but that wouldn’t be art either!