Category Archives: Project Two: Time and time-based media

Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Still Life 2001

In a graceful expression of life and death and immortality, Sam Taylor-Johnson’s modern take on a still life captures a contemporary twist on a traditional fine art craft. Capturing the essence of ‘nature mort’ paintings, Taylor-Johnson explores the connection between the dead feeding new life. Even the juxtaposition of a plastic pen made from plastic, and thus decayed animals, can be interpreted as a symbol of man’s obsession with immortality.


Her skilful use of video to portray movement and decay amplifies the concept of time.  Sitting well within her catalogue of video commentaries on life, emotion and death she continues to take the audience on a grotesque voyeuristic journey. From her early art (Killing Time, 1994) she has had an incredible ability to draw the viewer in, into a trance like fascination, continually referencing man’s calling towards being more than one’s self. Taylor-Johnson’s art based videos translates well into her commercial work. I find it a small wonder that she was the director of Fifty Shades of Grey.


Longplayer – Interpreting sound

My initial reaction to the music ( is that I find it very haunting. It’s very atmospherical, but also rather theological. It reminds me of Tibetan monks and temple bells, but then they’re Tibetan singing bowls.  Meanwhile when certain bells play my dog Henry charges downstairs and barks at the front door making me jump, so maybe not as calming as it could be.

I certainly get the motivation behind the piece, and I find it does make you consider the cosmos, and our place within it. Knowing the piece will be playing long after my body has decomposed into dust adds a philosophical approach to listening to the piece. Will someone rewind the music at a later date, to this place and time, when I’m listening to it? Doesn’t that make this piece an exploration of time travel as well?

I’m sure when Jem Finer considered the instruments to use in the piece, he wanted to go with something ethereal. The bells certainly fill the space around me, even through laptop speakers. I wonder if Finer has ever visited Jodrell Bank because the sounds certainly complement the space sounds that are played there from the satellites.

The quality of the sound is great, really clear and I presume this was one of the reasons singing bowls were chosen as they are both crisp and carry the notes for a long space of time. They also cut through other noise, which I imagine would be very important if the site became busy. The longevity of the instruments were also an important consideration, many other instruments would need more maintenance as strings or reeds would need replacing. I love that the bowls can be played equally well by machine and person. With the webpage discussing artificial intelligence and the question of will machines be able to emotionally create art. Will this happen within the timescale of the composition?

I find the 2 perspectives of the piece really interesting, if I visit the site I’m kept out on the peripheral of the instruments looking in, but not able to really see the complexity of the arrangement. Whereas the view online seems more inclusive, the bird’s eye view feels like I’m more connected.

The connection with the cosmos and the repetition within it, is seen throughout the website. It talks about revolutions of planets and how some take 1000 years to circle their star. So although the piece was designed as a time-based piece I find, personally, it’s more about space and place.

There is an interesting dilemma about how the composition has been designed to last 1000 years. The choice of instrument and computer based performance is fine, but as with all art there is an element of doubt as to whether it will last the full term. I can see the practical side of using a computer, however with computer technology moving at such a vast rate of progression, will the piece become impossible to play on future technology?


Emulating a solar system, with its concentric circles, Longplayer rings out an atmospheric composition using a mix of man and technology based performers . Jem Finer uses Tibetan singing bowls to contemplate our place within the universe through a philosophical solar year of 1000 years.  Although you are able to view the bowls at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, the design of the piece has taken into account the fact the piece may have to moved, and this keeps the audience on the outside of the revolutions of sound.  However Finer’s clever use of internet based technologies, such as live streaming, has allowed human interaction through artificial intelligence. It’s a clever juxtaposition between man and machine, which does leave you contemplating our existing in the future.

The fourth dimension

Finally moved into the second project at OCA and it’s about time (so many ways I mean that). The OCA refer to this as art forms which require time like film or sound. To kick us off though they’re asking us to discuss the concept. It’s an interesting one for sure.

I’m pretty sure that time is a human concept. That at some point in history we devised a way to portion our days. I wonder why, at that time in our history, did we need to. These days I find it’s used to monetise it. In business management and economic terms there is a finite amount of it.  When you choose to do one thing with it, you can’t do something else with the same period. Time comes only once. There are no do-overs. Opportunity costs. It forms the very foundation of business costs.

Having moved from this world into the art world I find the concept has changed. I was always tracking the minutes, to simplify processes, to make it more efficient, to maintain a client’s budget, to maximise my profits. Now to spend a day/week/month contemplating a concept is considered normal. It enhances it, develops it, deepens it. I find myself not completing a painting for several weeks whilst I consider what direction to take it in.

Then you have the enormity of time, how it has stretched behind mankind for eons, yet when you consider the scale of the universe we’ve been here moments. Blink and you’d miss us.



According to Wiki, and many art historians, the above image by Salvador Dali was about his exploration of time and space. I find it fascinating that he regularly told them it was not. Regardless of this debate, it is a well recognised image with clocks in it, which is man’s way of managing time. When I think of artwork discussing time this was the first image that popped into my head. Maybe because the melting clocks have become iconic.

Personally I think it’s more about how our memories are tied to specific times in our lives. That the two are entwined. When recalling a memory we use time to remind us, or it’s a moment in time which jogs a memory. The painting certainly explores that we have a finite amount of time before we die. I love the worker ants, critics state Dali used them to symbolise decay, but couldn’t it equally be said that it discusses how we fill our life with work, that we careen towards our deaths spending most of our time at work?

So anyway…….yes I’ve had a few thoughts about time. I’m aware that art has been created exploring the concept. I’m quite excited about discovering how time can be used within contemporary art.