Spatialized Time

Following on from the previous post, my characterization of minimalism, which may not apply to all artists associated with that aesthetic, could correspond to Einstein’s picture of space/time. A consequence of relativity is what scientists call the “block universe,” in which the past and future both exist as “places.” Our language is not helpful with this, but enough to say that time is totally spatialized, with the further possibility that it can be completely eliminated from the picture. Julian Barbour has gone a long way with this; he thinks that time is entirely a human construct, and that we don’t actually need it to understand the universe. Other scientists of my acquaintance are very concerned to hang on to time because they want to allow the emergence of the new and the unexpected. Without time there is no emergence. I’m with them—the Heraclitan view of the world as fundamentally process, as change.


Robert Linsley, Lower Eagles Reach, 1999

My method is obviously emergent, but more compelling for me is that I feel so many possibilities arising. Each piece beckons onward; there are so many ways to organize shapes and so much expression to be realized. I have a strong sense of my existence in time, and so find Barbour’s ideas counter intuitive at the least. All the more worth pondering. In any case, for me the relativity of space and time means that every experience of a particular place is also of a specific time. That’s here and now, not extrapolating the consequences into the far off stars. De Kooning is in the air right now, and the illustrated piece alludes to his work, as does the image in an earlier post.

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