This week’s reading is chapter 6 from Making Art by Terry Barrett.
“Always changing, never twice the same” – Robert Irwin (Getty Garden, Getty Museum, Los Angeles)*
“time: The continuum of experience in which events actually (or apparently) take place.”*
“Time has dimensions of both duration and tempo. Duration refers to how long an event actually lasts. We also experience duration in relative terms: some things that take an hour seem like they take ‘forever,’ while other things that also take an hour may seem to pass ‘in no time at all.'”*
“Tempo refers to the speed at which an activity takes place. Tempo, too, is a relative term: something can appear slower or faster in relation to something else. A rabbit moves more quickly than a turtle, but a turtle moves more quickly than a slug. Tempo can be measured, but can seem faster or slower than it is, depending on the state of mind we are in when we experience something.”*
Question: How can duration and tempo be represented in non-performance and non-installation works such as paintings, photographs and 3D non-moving sculptures?
Surely things like exposure can contribute to the feeling of tempo in a photograph. If a long exposure shot is taken of, say, a highway at night, cars racing by, we get a feeling of movement, often rapid and urgent. But is it “actual” tempo or implied tempo? Are these things achieved by the power of the narration in a piece? What if the piece has no narration?
I suppose this leads into the next section where we examine the concepts of actual time and implied time, as well as recorded time, scope and sequence. It is especially important to note that sequence need not follow time. Sequence is an “arrangement of events” and can be manipulated to achieve the effect the artist wishes to achieve.
I was prompted to revisit this section of response in particular when viewing Harold Edgerton’s piece “Queen of Hearts Playign Card Hit by a .30 Calibre Bullet” and reading about how the piece was captured using exposure times of less than 1/10,000 of a second – exactly the opposite of the long exposure that would indicate motion on a busy street at night. Those long blurs of light indicate motion in a different way than Edgerton does – the bullet in this piece seems frozen in time. Some people might see it as moving, but to me, it reminds me of scenes in films where people freeze time. I want to reach out and touch that bullet – move it off course, turn it around to go back through the card in the opposite direction, tilt it upward so its trajectory goes into the ceiling or downward into the floor when time resumes.
Question: When we seek to achieve an effect – such as the capturing of movement, what steps must we take to help the viewer see things the way we want them to be seen? Viewers bring their own life experiences with them, their own baggage and opinions and feelings and outlooks. These things cause them to react to work in a certain way. How to we reach past that or use that potential personal experience to help the viewer see things the way we want them to? And if they don’t, what does that mean? Are we a failure as an artist or did they interpret the work in a way that brings a new, equally or perhaps more important meaning to the piece that resonates more with the viewer because of their life experiences.
Question: In what ways have you manipulated sequence in your work, perhaps taking it out of time or placed items in an order that might not be what is perceived as the usual order of things to make a statement? If not your own work, then what examples of it have you seen? Do they stand out to you? Maybe you saw or chose a method that isn’t exactly odd, but is a choice that makes a statement, nevertheless, such as the example cited of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Order by casualty is not strange or even necessarily out of time, but it is a choice that says something about the information being presented.
The Following piece by Acconci is interesting and reminds me of a Christopher Nolan film of the same name that I have seen part of, but not all of. (netflix instant view link for Following.) It struck me as a very intriguing concept, but twice I have started it and other factors in my life have intervened in my ability to finish it.
When speaking of “Bunny,” the Barrett states “By its implication of eternal time, the film invites interpretations of a serious topic through cartoon characters.” The way the statement is made makes it seem as though Barrett finds this to be unusual. I disagree. Many animated pieces, especially Japanese animation (colloquially referred to as “anime”) often touches on extremely serious topics – whether through movies or full series that cover these topics. Many people see this as a genre apart from or different to “cartoons” while other people see all animation as cartoons. “Bunny” is a different sort of animation altogether, showing a more 3-Dimensional representation reminiscent of something like stop-motion or claymation (as inferred by the screen caps) than many other pieces of work that are often referred to as “cartoons”. In the Western World, there are cartoons that also cover these same topics. Although many of us see Disney works as “animated films,” how are they different from “cartoons”? And many times morals and situations that cause people to evaluate serious topics. Even Looney Toons was political in its day and made many comments on serious topics in its early days, disguised as humor.
It’s interesting to me that Barrett should reference 24 as an example of tempo – particularly rapid tempo. For me, this was an example of subjective tempo. Although the series is meant to feel fast, due to the way it is shot, and the intensity of the situations, I never made it past the first season. It felt slow to me – perhaps the fact that after 24 episodes – 24 hours, I had only assimilated one day of Jack Bauer’s life. To me, I felt like I wanted that day’s worth of my life back. I felt unsatisfied and although so many things happened in that one day, I felt cheated somehow. So much of it felt extraneous as they tried to cram more and more into that one day and I just felt as though it took “forever” to get through it. Reaching the end of the season was a relief and that feeling of stretched out time with little reward has kept me from ever being interested in watching subsequent seasons of the show.
Question: Looking at the Robert Capa photograph of the solider approaching the beach of Normandy, how would you feel if it were clearer? Would the feeling that you get from it change? Would it have a different emotion? Does time change that feeling?
To me, it feels old, in part because of the blurring, something that marks a period of time that has passed. But at its time of capture, it was not old. Would I have felt differently about it had I viewed it then?
“The Way Things Go” by Fischli & Weiss piques my interest as a piece of controlled chaos.
*excerpts taken from Making Art by Terry Barrett.