One can look upon time in different ways. Time is easily understandable when we are talking about timespans of a human measure but remains mysterious when we talk about long ones or truly short ones.
Watching over time
A work of plastic art cannot be seized completely in one moment. To have a complete view of it, you must travel over its details. The dimension of time is implicit. In video art – one of my favorite art forms – you are forced to watch over time; the dimension of time is explicit. Both in my videos and photos I am searching for their mutual touchpoints in their time-experience.
Forcing the viewing experience over time
Due to the exceptionally wide formats of most of the works in the ‘Timelines’-project (500 cm x 38 cm if you do not consider the black borders) and their details, it is impossible to watch them in one single time. A distant view shows only a long strip. There are only two ways to really perceiving them. First, there is a linear one, from the left to the right, or the opposite: you travel through space and time as if it were a video. Secondly there is a non-linear one, choosing out the spots that look the most interesting and discovering their details, as in a time capsule.
There is nothing to see here
The ones who do not want to see ‘something’ in the installations of ‘Timelines’, will not see anything in it. It is necessary that the spectator submerges himself into the photo. And, in many respects, he does not need my installation to find the same experience in real life: simply looking at the ground wherever in the world will do the job. It is a form of minimal art.
When I was a student, in the 80s, I had the chance to interview John Cage during one of his last European tours. For my series ‘Timelines’ his influence has been enormous. Not only for his vision that blurs the line between art and the everyday environment (the ‘natural’ sounds of the everyday environment are considered as art, artistic intentions are doomed and unimportant), but also for his vision on time as something static, without drama or purposefulness.
The works of the ‘Timeline’-series may look like a photo, but each of them are collages of many detailed photos, all taken at the same day and more or less in the same spot.
I print them on advertising tarpaulins, mostly of 5 meters length and 55 cm height. I like working on this material because of its character as an omnipresent commercial medium, carrying around stereotyped and ephemeral messages – more or less the opposite of what I am using it for, nearly like Nietzsches transvaluation of values (but the other way round). The simple fact that tarpaulin is an affordable material that lasts a long time is (for me) a big advantage too.
The works of the Timelines-series can be exposed on a wall, as a horizontal strip, but also laying down on the floor. Anyhow, most of them are collages of pictures of the ground, so the last solution is somewhere the most natural one, while the first one gives a more alienated effect.