Neighborhood Narratives London

Where Does the Time Go?
April 20, 2007, 6:00 pm
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princess-diana.jpgThis entire project for me was about being aware of time.  It was taking the idea of different kinds of time and ways of measuring time.  It was about being conscious of the many different uses as well. Below is an excert for Alan Lightman’s short piece about Einstein.  It is a piece designed to give you a better perspective and understanding about different kinds of time.  I took my class on location to Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain because it maps out her life through water that bubbles over smooth granite and cascades over rough parts that represent her lifeline.  Essentially it was a location chosen with the way it uses time. The location was part of the exercise all together getting people to think about ways of mapping time as well. Time is more than just an intangible thing and this whole locative media project was supposed to illustrate that. The artistic part came in when I asked everybody to tie pieces of string to parts of their body they best think represents time. As you can see by the image there were similar areas such as the mid-regions representing “time to go to the bathroom”.  Other locations were not so obvious like around the ring finger on the left hand symbolizing the time to get married.

Anyway, the excerpt below. . .

24 April 1905In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time. The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish in a bay. The first is unyielding, predetermined. The second makes up its mind as it goes along.Many are convinced that mechanical time does not exist. When they pass the giant clock on the Kramgasse they do not see it; nor do they hear its chimes while sending packages on Postgasse or strolling between flowers in the Rosengarten. They wear watches on their wrists, but only as ornaments or as courtesies to those who would give timepieces as gifts. They do not keep clocks in their houses. Instead, they listen to their heartbeats. They feel the rhythms of their moods and desires. Such people eat when they are hungry, go to their jobs at the millinery or the chemist’s whenever they wake from their sleep, make love all hours of the day. Such people laugh at the thought of mechanical time. They know that time moves in fits and starts. They know that time struggles forward with a weight on its back when they are rushing an injured child to the hospital or bearing the gaze of a neighbor wronged. And they know too that time darts across the field of vision when they are eating well with friends or receiving praise or lying in the arms of a secret lover.Then there are those who think their bodies don’t exist. They live by mechanical time. They rise at seven o’clock in the morning. They eat their lunch at noon and their supper at six. They arrive at their appointments on time, precisely by the clock. They make love between eight and ten at night. They work forty hours a week, read the Sunday paper on Sunday, play chess on Tuesday nights. When their stomach growls, they look at their watch to see if it is time to eat. When they begin to lose themselves in a concert, they look at the clock above the stage to see when it will be time to go home. They know that the body is not a thing of wild magic, but a collection of chemicals, tissues, and nerve impulses. Thoughts are no more than electrical surges in the brain. Sexual arousal is no more than a flow of chemicals to certain nerve endings. Sadness no more than a bit of acid transfixed in the cerebellum. In short, the body is a machine, subject to the same laws of electricity and mechanics as an electron or clock. As such, the body must be addressed in the language of physics. And if the body speaks, it is the speaking only of so many levers and forces. The body is a thing to be ordered, not obeyed.

Taking the night air along the river Aare, one sees evidence for two worlds in one. A boatman gauges his position in the dark by counting seconds drifted in the water’s current. “One, three meters. Two, six meters. Three, nine meters.” His voice cuts through the black in clean and certain syllables. Beneath a lamppost on the Nydegg Bridge, two brothers who have not seen each other for a year stand and drink and laugh. The bell of St. Vincent’s Cathedral sings ten times. In seconds, lights in the apartments lining Schifflaube wink out, in a perfect mechanized response, like the deductions of Euclid’s geometry. Lying on the riverbank, two lovers look up lazily, awakened from a timeless sleep by the distant church bells, surprised to find that night has come.

Where the two times meet, desperation. Where the two times go their separate ways, contentment. For, miraculously, a barrister, a nurse, a baker can make a world in either time, but not in both times. Each time is true, but the truths are not the same.

Excerpted from Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman Copyright © 2004 by Alan Lightman. 


January 27, 2007, 12:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Globe was a great experience, not only for class but for my time in London. It gave me more of an appreciation for the man who actually wrote the pieces that were performed at the theater. Traveling there helped to gain some sort of feeling of traveling back in time.  In reality I was not going back in time but with the whole tour one kind of has to put themselves in the position as if they were actually there to understand it.  Knowing it is one thing and hearing it is another but I will never be able to full experience it because, what IT is, no longer exists.  Technology has in a way ruined history and how things were done in the past.  Some things are taken for granted.

 On the other hand though, walking to the water pump, technology and research has very much saved lives.  John Snow’s discoveries, although no one seemed to believe him were indeed correct (I can only really imagine).  It wasn’t necessarily that cholera was the thing being communicated, no one went to the water pump to get cholera, rather they went to get water; one of life’s essentials.  Where the cholera came from though is the real mystery and why it was so prominant in that specific area. Why not anywhere else? The whole idea of networks is something that works here. It is cholera moving from one place to another, from one area to that one pump from one pump to one body, from one body to another and so on.  Its funny, its like telling a secret. You tell one person and they all of the sudden your secret is all over the town.

It is an easy concept to think about maps as more than just directions to get from place to place but that is simply what they are, just in a different way.  We used the GPS to get from location to location but stopped also at unplanned places to video tape.  Those places that we stopped at to record sections of the video were significant, and even though they weren’t planned; they were still on the map. That is an interesting concept to me, because normally I would have said they were not on the map just because we didn’t coordinate them into our plan but, in fact they were and so was every other place we walked by, every street we crossed, and sandwich shop we did not stop at. With the Cradle to grave, it was a way to map someone’s life. It is still taking you from one place to another this way more in a metaphorical sense.  It is still a journey but a different kind.  Maybe it’s late, maybe I’m tired, maybe its because I am listening to the String Cheese Incident, but it really is an interesting parallel –> mapping does not have to be physically moving from one place to another it can be a mental thing too. Emotional maps too. When you get over the loss of a pet for example.  You are moving from one stage of mourning to a stage of acceptance. That would be an emotional map. What this all means, I cannot say but it’s interesting.

When I think about us walking from place to place, this is in itself another story. Just now, I wondered how it would have been being an outsider, by being detached and seeing this group of people walk around London.  What were those people thinking?  Was anybody even noticing?  

As far as themes for the class, I cannot be too sure I can tell you any themes of the class. I feel like I know but can’t draw any conclusive line from one learning to another BUT, I can tell  you that after letting things sink in a little before writing this blog, the whole idea of networks, mapping and narrative have more of a meaning because of visiting those places.

A journey through Pategonia (my bookbag)
January 27, 2007, 12:21 am
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The contents of my bag included the FIE information packet, one pair of mittens, an empty packet of birth control pills, keys to my flat and one folder containing flight information that my dad put together for me. The FIE info packet was in my bag because of convenience, It was the only place I could put it when first arriving. As far as the folder, there was a note on it reminding me to call Kyle between 6 and 8. Mittens, well, I wear mittens because I am most comfortable in them and they keep my hands warmest. Keys are essential to getting into my flat and locking it up so that everything is secure. The folder of flight information is just an agenda my dad put together in case I am not so organized upstairs in my head, he did it just in case I lost it…my head that is. Empty packet of birth control pills, well they are only empty because I just finished them all. Everything in my bag was pretty essential. All information packets were to keep me organized, birth control too, keeps me regulated. Mittens are essential for warmth. Keys are important for shelter. All of these things are necessities on the surface but I guess if you are willing, you can dig deeper to understang the real meanings behind what these objects mean. To me though, they are nothing but objects that just so happened to be in my bag during that specific point in time and have no relevant meaning. I didn’t pack them for any reason (except for the keys) The thing is, I don’t think about what is in a bag unless I am preparing for something, which was not in this case.