Gathering Time

prairie and sky

The time it takes to count 100 heart-beats: 1 minute, 17 seconds.

The time it takes to toss and turn through early morning fever dreams: ~50 minutes.

The time it takes to fold the laundry for Grama, like she always did for us when we were kids: 11 minutes.

The times it takes to build a roaring fire: 17 minutes.

The time it takes to read “Shells & Time” by Italo Calvino: 6 minutes, 2 seconds.

The time it takes for a firework to explode: 3 seconds.


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We use TIME to find our way through the space between us. Shared time establishes what’s considered universal or normal. Doctors, scientists, musicians, transportation officers, engineers, city planners, and many more professions use time to mediate between people, to guide us through each day. It can be a rigid structure, into which we squish to conform in order to function within social space. But everyone has experienced the relativity of time, the 15-second interval that lasts a lifetime, the blissful day that lasts a minute, the traumatic moment that stretches forever and then blinks out, returning us abruptly to the other version of time that we share with each other.

 

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Throughout the month of June, we were Gathering Time. We invited members of the public to submit hyper-personal periods of time to a maximum of 1-hour, measured in minutes and seconds. The results were 181 submissions, from as close as cSPACE King Edward and as far away as Istanbul. We asked for:

– “The time it takes to __________________________________________________”
– The amount of time in minutes and seconds (max 1. Hour)

We asked that the interval of time be important to the person submitting them, in some way.  We didn’t ask for details, elaborations, or clarification (unless we absolutely needed to). Perhaps as a result, we received every sort of submission, from poetic to mundane, whimsical to frightening, pragmatic to heartbreaking, specific to universal. By nature of their brevity, each measure was charged with implications, always just beyond the edge of clear understanding. We embraced this fragmentation. We felt privileged to gain insight into mysterious moments of personal importance. Even the joke submissions were fascinating.

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From these times, we will select 50 measurements to grind into sand. This sand will be used to fill just under half the hourglasses of Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (50 of 105). The remaining measurements of time will be steady and universal (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc). In this way, we hope to build an articulated clock, combining shared understandings of time with specific experiences of how time passes. The hourglasses, flipping again and again, will both capture and release the increments of time measured, building a parallel chronology, a new time-shape, an eternal moment.

Thank you to all the sweet, thoughtful, hilarious folks who contributed to our Time Gathering.


The time it takes to feel a stab of recollection, a stab of pain, a stab of beauty: 1 minute 15 seconds.

stab of pain, stab of beautyPhotographs by Caitlind r.c. Brown

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