Time, Information Management and Art Making

Advertisement seen in China last year

A few ideas have been perennially circulating in my thinking lately. One is that consensus reality is overrated. I am increasingly interested in connecting with what might be termed the invisible elements of life.

The other is that the perpetual 24/7 news cycle that permeates our lives is more destructive on our consciousness than we might suppose.

So when my friend Megan Hustad shared a link to this excerpt, by artist Carol Bove, from the book, Akademie X: Lessons in Art + Life, I was heartened to find similar sentiments beautifully expressed.

Carol Bove on art making and the concept of “time and information management:”

I started to adjust my thinking about productivity so that it was no longer valued in and of itself. It strikes me as vulgar always to have to apply a cost/benefit analysis to days lived; it’s like understanding an exchange of gifts only as barter…

And there was more to it than that: I was able to begin the process of withdrawal from my culture’s ideology around the instrumentality of time, i.e. that you can use time. I think the ability to withdraw from consensus reality is one of the most important skills for an artist to learn because it helps her to recognize invisible forces.

Your time is not a separate thing from you; it’s not an instrument. Time is part of what you’re made from. Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Everything that you do and think about is going to be in your artwork. The computer-science idea “garbage in, garbage out” applies to artists. This is something to consider when you’re choosing your habitual activities.

One question is, how do you create a way of being in the world that allows new things (ideas, information, people, places) into your life without letting everything in? I want to point out that your tolerance for media saturation might be lower than you realize. You need to conduct an open-ended search that doesn’t overwhelm you with information and at the same time doesn’t limit the search in a way that pre-determines your findings. That is a puzzle.

Like “chop wood, carry water,” Bove’s advice is about daily practice and an approach to living. And although this is stated simply, that doesn’t make it easy. Some codes are never completely cracked. We all just start from wherever we are.

4 Replies to “Time, Information Management and Art Making”

  1. Thank you, I needed this today.

  2. Cham Chai just wrote a book, “The Invention of Time” which attempts to unravel the mystery of Time. “Is Time a part of the realm alongside energies and space, or is it just a psychological syndrome?”

    The books explores how Time has become involved in human intelligence and science. It asks the question: What if Time were never invented, would we be more evolved or less?

    During my three month hiatus from my normal days work, time has certainly changed for me. I notice how difficult it is to relax and let Time have its way with me rather than trying to fashion Time to my liking. The notion (acquired legitimately from strong Mormon work ethics) that I must spend every waking (and maybe even sleeping) hour earning my keep is marrow deep. Wasting time, is anathema to my childhood religion, which is why at times I feel the rebel in me wanting to start a revolution.

    It has occurred to me several times these past months that if there were no such thing as time, there would be nothing to waste. I would be living happily in this moment right now.

    The invention of time, as I am coming to relate to it, has made humans rather subject to a form of slavery. (Slave to the clock!) Without all the measurements we have set into place to decide how long a person has lived, how much their hourly worth is and how quickly one must get from point A to point B to be acknowledged a success, I wonder if we wouldn’t all live longer, look younger, be more generous, happier and yes, even more talented? The fact that what can be achieved in one minute is greater than it was when my people came to this country both excites me and depresses me. While something may be gained by our technologies, there is always as much chance of something important being lost.

    I love that you bring up things that are current for me. You continue to feed. Thanks for the quote.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Cindy, what a wonderful addition to this post. Thank you for sharing your very useful perceptions. I agree with you and with Carol Bove–we think about time all wrong. Thanks again.

  3. I am fascinated by the mind; about how it works in interpreting our experiences of life. You can take consensus reality, then wind it around – what is consciousness and add in do we really have free will and have way more questions than answers. They are subjective terms all – yet all are important in trying to squeeze out some kind of meaning or reason to the thoughts we have.

    I read a book – Conversations on Consciousness by Susan Blackmore – about 10 years ago and this is a quote from the back cover – “What we would eventually like is an explanation. That is, we would be able to look at the physical process in the brain and say “aha”! Now I see why this gives rise to a subjective experience of this kind.’ Right now nobody has a clue about that.” David Chalmers.

    And what is more subjective than art?

    As far as time is concerned I have noticed the longer I’m retired the more irrelevant it becomes. You realize it is a constraint put upon you so you can move about in society. The universal way everyone keeps track. Most adults are shackled to the clock by a job. Working rules the rest of your life – when to get up, go to bed, eat, vacation, take the kids here or there, go see your friend or family and yes do your art. The job is the constant time that must be fed and this is whether you are self-employed or work for some company.

    When you take the “job” out of the equation then specific time, even days can get ambiguous. Time becomes mostly a thing to keep track of social obligations like meeting someone for dinner or keeping professional appointments like with doctors. Or maybe when a certain tv show is on. Besides that whatever I do during the day has little to do with what time it is. It can be freeing but also like Cindy says it can be difficult to release that feeling of I must be do something “constructive”. I haven’t “worked” in years but I still on occasion get this feeling that I should be doing “something”. That feeling of having a “job” nagging at your brain for over 40 years leaves a lot of bits and pieces behind that are tough to totally erase.

    I also get a kick out of leap year. We were at our favorite restaurant Friday and the bartender, a young man of 20 something, says – It was nice to have an extra day this week. I said I didn’t know there were 8 days in this week. He said no. its leap year so February had an extra day this year. I said I must have have slept right through that extra spin the earth had between the 29th and 1st. He just looked at me. I said you got screwed. You didn’t get an extra day – it’s calendar mathematics not celestial. I said if you’re really keeping track of time – what do you do with the more than 5 extra real hours you get every year? He told me I’m crazy…and I probably am. The reality of time and the value of money are both illusions.

    As far as the 24/7 negative media that bombards us – it will drag you down the blackest hole you will ever see if you let it and most people don’t realize it’s happening to them. I think there should be no news media allowed to be broadcast by any means between 9pm and 7am – everybody gets 10 hours to decompress.

    D.L. Wood

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: