Infinite Instances: Studies and Images of Time is a collection of original essays and visual meditations on the nature of time. It includes papers and artwork from the ArcheTime conference & exhibition in 2009 with additional materials.
Tax-deductible contributions to the ArcheTime Project can be made at: WWW.ARTSPIRE.ORG
Through time this world comes into existence. Time makes possible our life here, our journey through this space. Without time we would not be able to write or read sentences. We would not be able develop anything, including our thoughts. Many words in our everyday language are connected to time: fast, quick, slow, immediate, tomorrow, yesterday, today, moment, permanent, after, before, now … and yet we still grapple with defining “time.
Time creates astonishing complexity through an endless series of replications—leaves, planets, stones, clouds, animals. These constructs are remarkably similar yet simultaneously individual, with innumerable subtle or significant variations. From a distance, the crown of a tree is a volume of identical leaves, but from close up we can see the uniqueness of each leaf. In examining deeper, we again find a mass of similar-seeming cells.
Evolution has created the complexity of our environment through an endless process of reproduction, with miniscule changes from instance to instance of the same object. Development - evolution - is possible only in time through creation and destruction, which are two sides of the same coin. Each moment in time is in turn a slightly altered configuration of the instance that preceded it. Time can be seen as the arena or medium in which change occurs, through layers of infinite instances.
Once upon a time…
… I was a little girl, growing up in my grandparents’ house, listening to their myths and stories. I thought that my grandfather had a “Key to Time,” which he used to wind the stately old clock that hung in the dining room. This was my introduction to the concept of time—perhaps the first abstract concept I came to know.
Filled with the effusive curiosity of childhood, I asked: Where does time go? Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t it wait around for anyone? Where is the future hidden? Where is the past? My grandfather laughed as he answered, “You’ll find out when you grow up. You’ll go to school, and they’ll explain everything there.”
But of course, these questions have been the subject of constant human fascination for untold thousands of years. Our lives are ruled and delineated by time—from life-death cycles, to quotidian rhythms of going to school and work. Time preoccupies our day-to-day worries and our flights of imagination. Recently, “time management” has become a hot topic on self-help shelves; meanwhile blockbuster films like 2012 dramatize the end-of-days supposedly predicted by the Mayan’s Long Count calendar, drawing in millions of moviegoers worldwide.
Infinite Instances is a book about time. It came to life out of a personal search for meaning among the multitude of theories and viewpoints on the subject. Having finished my education without—as my grandfather had hoped—satisfactory answers to most of my questions, I began to reach out to experts and thinkers from different disciplines, all of whom see time through a unique lens.
In 2009, I had the opportunity to bring together a group of scientists, artists, philosophers, writers, and filmmakers from around the world to participate in ArcheTime, a conference dedicated to sharing and debating their views on time and creating lines of dialogue and collaboration between the disciplines. Presentations, lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions were held over two days in New York City, and a two-week long art exhibition coincided with the event.
Infinite Instances is a result of the ArcheTime discussions—as much an attempt to freeze time and record what happened as a challenge to provoke further examination and discourse. It is a multitude of ideas, theories, and diverse approaches to the problem of Time. There is no domineering voice, or consensus—no precise answers or neat conclusions. This collection is meant to be seen as almost accidental, which is—after all—the condition that leaves room for serendipity.
ArcheTime Project supported by Artspire (a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, EFA Project Space, the Tank Space for Performing & Visual Arts, WIX Lounge, SET Galleryand the NYC Future Salon
Infinite Instances: Studies and Images of Time is a collection of original essays and visual meditations on the nature of time. It includes papers and artwork from the ArcheTime conference/exhibition in 2009 with additional materials.
Mark Batty Publisher is an independent publisher dedicated to making distinctive books on the visual art of communicating, showcasing the visual power and innovation of contemporary culture in all of its varied poses: www.markbattypublisher.com
ArcheTime is an ongoing cross-disciplinary project dedicated to exploring artistic, academic and scientific concepts of Time: www.archetime.net