Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Time Lapses: Focus and Futility, Fact and Fiction

Gen Y videographer Ben Blennerhassett, with Chewbacca. Image Source: Ben Blennerhassett.

Australian freelance designer and photographer Ben Blennerhassett recorded one second in every day of his life in the year 2013. He compiled these clips into a video now making the rounds online. Others have come up with similar projects, notably Noah Kalina who broke ground with two such videos in 2006 and 2012 (see my posts on Kalina here and here).

Blennerhassett's record reveals that it is nearly impossible to focus in post-Postmodern life. Time has become plastic and life can be artificially manipulated into a social media networking product. There is nothing fun or cute about that. View these videos one way, and they highlight the futility which accelerated technology brings to our lives.

Blennerhassett's final compilation shows something that eludes the videographer in his initial concept and practice. He has not captured anything. Instead, the clip captures him. He has recorded something about his life that is not evident except through the video compilation: a lack of control. There is an eerie point at which the medium spins away, beyond the eye and intention of this artist.

Noah Kalina may have hinted at this outcome. His initial effort from 2006, everyday, included positive and contemplative Millennial piano music by Carly Comando; this was the optimistic, wonder-filled take on technology. But for his most recent compilation of photos of himself, every day, for twelve and a half years, Kalina chose ominous music by Majestyy. With this score, he hinted at something disturbing; even without it, all his viewers sensed that something had gone wrong. As one put it: "THE LONGER YOU LOOK THE MORE AL PACINO IT GETS." The difference between the two artists is that Kalina appears to be aware of this fact, while Blennerhassett seems to be oblivious to it. Perhaps this is due to their different focuses. Blennerhassett focuses on his surroundings. Kalina's focus on himself is relentless, unapologetic, unwavering. Despite the medium's pressure to undermine him, to turn him into an object, he remains the subject.

One friend remarked to me that the replaying of compressed time is often used in films to symbolize death. After all, a life boiled down to one minute makes manifest a standard cliché about death. I would add to that - compressed time suggests cinematic moments of shock, revelation or moral challenges. As in: Everything led up to this. If we turn our lives into videos and self-marketing film sequences, will these works become subject to the tropes of cinematic narratives? Will these Millennial documentaries of the Self be viewed with the same expectations that we bring to watching movies? Do facts, so recorded, become fiction, rather than history?

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