Drawing on last weeks conversations about time and the ways in which we measure it, this weeks class began by questioning the idea of memory and its relationship with time. Last week a student of mine raised an interesting question – ‘would time exist if evolution stopped?’ This led us into an enquiry about the nature of evolution, through thought and action. Could we measure time through the evolution of an idea, for example? Could we, perhaps, separate memory from experience?
The students seemed quite taken by the relationship between time and language (through moments) and so I introduced them to some of Wittgenstein’s ideas of language, where the visual is the catalyst that creates or destroys the ways in which we receive information. And if this was another way of keeping time could we perhaps assume that it was language that measured time. The conversation moved to the ideas of language as a creation of identity and if language in its written and visual was the creator of the essence of a person’s identity. These ideas, which grew out of conversations between the students and me allowed for us to open up the parameters of understanding time, encountering new ideas and forms as we moved.
Last week I attended a lecture with Dr. James Cuno entitled Identity, Nostalgia, Meaning: Identity Politics and Modern Museums, and this seemed a perfect moment to talk to my students about Dr Cuno’s analysis – where museums, through a process of selection can create, distort and deliver a sense of national identity and in many ways, became the store house of memory and kept time in a unique and fascinating way. Drawing from this we began to think about a person’s relationship with time and the self in the absence of language, identities, politics, objects and conversation. This was a fascinating way to see the students understand this because they were able to draw from the previous Studio to develop and hone these ideas. I spoke to them, very briefly about the work of Marina Abramović’s performance at the Serpentine Gallery 512 Hours (2014).
Here is where you can watch Maria Abramovic: