Interdisciplinary Seminar: Time (VA2120.01)

Mariam Ghani

We give time, take time, make time, waste time, save time, and spend time. We travel through time and arrive in time; our time is money; we are either on or off the clock, but either way, we are circumscribed by it. We exist in time, all the time, but what does it mean to us now, what has it meant historically, and how can we work with it as artists? This term we will explore time – first as a phenomenological experience; second as a scientific, socio-economic, linguistic and fictional construct, e.g. clock time, atomic time, machine time, entropic time, queer time, and time travel; third as broken into the fundamental elements of time-based practices – duration and repetition, simultaneity and succession, break and flow, narrative arcs and logics – and differentiated between time elapsed within the work and time experienced by the audience. Readings will range from psychology to philosophy, social and scientific history, to film and literary theory and performance studies, as well as writing by artists and authors directly engaged with fundamental questions about the parameters of time-based practice. We will examine both the historical implications of the standardization of timekeeping, and the economic consequences of the invention of timetables, especially in relationship to the 19th-century imperial expansion that some have called the ‘conquering of space by time.’ We will look at film and performance practices from the 1960s and early 70s, including Fluxus and Structuralism; more recent projects that re-frame similar questions about duration for the theoretically infinite loops of new technologies; work in dance and music that connects to phenomenological and ontological philosophy; and experiments with time banks and similar systems of exchange. We will also look at contrasting approaches in art and philosophy informed by slowness and accelerationism. Students will produce one short (3-5 minute) project in the time-based medium of their choice at mid-term, which may be a collaboration, and may either write a paper or produce a longer (10-15 minute) project for their final.


Learning Outcomes:
In this course, students will:
- engage with ideas from disciplines outside their primary areas of study, through readings, screenings, presentations, and short written responses;
- be challenged to analyze and discuss a wide range of texts and artworks;
- think critically about the history of ideas and how they drift across disciplinary boundaries;
- put theory into practice by producing a short creative project responding to ideas discussed in class;
- produce a piece of sustained analytical writing or a substantial time-based project of equal depth and commitment.


Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 14
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Film and Video , Media Arts , Visual Arts (VA) , Fully In-Person
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