If practitioners of environmental and ecological arts have become expert in the critique of spatial politics and practices, should they also be able to develop and use critiques of time?
ecoartscotland is a partner in an AHRC funded research project entitled Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter: Pathfinders for Connection. This forms part of a cluster of Pilot Demonstrator Projects focused on the theme ‘Connected Communities’.
The ‘Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter’ project has been put together by:
- Johan Siebers – philosopher
- Anne Douglas – visual art
- Chris Speed architecture and digital spaces
- Michelle Bastian – philosopher
In collaboration with a range of community partners: ecoartscotland; Woodend Barn; Encounters Arts; Kathleen Coessens (musician and theoretician) and Holmewood School.
The aim of the project is to destabilise assumptions about temporality and to activate alternatives. The group believe that the arts and humanities have particular forms of knowledge around temporality that are of potential use to communities (e.g. those directly involved as well as in the wider sense).
There are some key experiences related particularly to the arts which are known, but perhaps not activated as tools of critique, such as ‘nunc stans’ (the experience of time standing still), ‘flow’ time when the process takes over all sense of time. But we should also note Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s use of ‘the urgency of the moment’, that sense of a particular time when culture is maleable, when new stories of futures can be imagined. In contrast Elaine Scarry’s discussion of pain and the loss of any sense of time is also relevant.
Perhaps one of the key cultural projects which focused on temporality was Futurism, and we now have its corollary, the Slow movement.
Amy Lipton recently posted a question to the ecoartnetwork asking artists to highlight projects which are open to the public during June 2012. Her intention was to make this information available to the Outreach Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency for inclusion in a calendar associated with the White House Initiative ‘Great Outdoors Month’.
The question is of course driven by ‘The Time of the Clock’ (or at least the calendar), but the example provokes reflection on temporality in relation to ecoart projects.
We might offer a number of other questions which might relate to clock/calendar as well as encounter:
How long did the project take?
What experience of time does the work encourage in the minds of those involved?
Ecoart projects tend to assume the wider agency of other species and systems – what is their relationship with temporality?
Did any of the artists in any way attempt to use creative strategies to affect community sense of temporality?
Are these projects ever ‘closed’ in other than a practical sense of visiting them?