Once upon a stack of times

While scrolling on my smartphone suddenly a notification badge appears at the top of my screen. “Weekly averaged 4 hours and 15 minutes of screen time a day”. I exist in the realm of illuminated panels, windows to another dimension where time seems to flow differently. According my remembrance time use to pass slower when I was not surrounded by screens at all times. But what is time anyway? And how come we humans have the desire to measure this immaterial substance in such an accurate way that the real clock only exists on paper, and it is in retrospect. I’m not heading for that answer because I believe it’s elusive as time itself seems to be. I’d rather questioning the way time is represented as ‘screentime’ and how we think we are able to process all this screen transmitted information. Why else are we so obsessed with productivity and time management if not the need to hold record for it? “Weekly averaged 12 hours and 33 minutes of screen time a day”

We have timekeeping devices like clocks on the wall or wristwatches to deliver linear time or UTC, the global distributed standard, for our artificial time environment. But beside this ‘clock time’ – the one that measures my ‘screentime’ – there is something more significant that fascinates me. Some call it our ‘inner time’, or ‘time perception’, to distinguish between the external time and your internal grasp of it. The disconnection from the clock itself is exhilarating to me. Where time can be lost or maybe gained. “Weekly averaged 16 hours and 56 minutes of screen time a day”

With the camera as a tool, I focused on the transmitted information of this illuminated panels such as: a slideshow, a movie, television news, a book, outdoor advertising and social media to create a timespan fixed on photographic film. I reached for extremely long exposure times based on, for example, the average waiting time for a train or the entire length of a movie. Let’s consider these exposures as measured time that contains a time flow. Something that matches the mechanical clock we tend to consider as “true time” or “the actual time”. The materialized time goes along with the compression of information intended for a human perception. But the perception relies on the ability of the transmission in sense of cognitive ability as well as the physical sensory receptors for receiving. And of course, both duration and memory are deeply embedded if we talk about human perceiving, we look with our past. It not only takes minutes or hours instead of a fraction of a second, but it also involves, derives from, and refers back to much previous sensations. Within the instant of the perception, your whole life experience can be commingled. With this continuity of information, we have to filter out what seems relevant for us to digest. A subconsciousness process, eclectic and selective reconstructions, what our mind performs in default mode especially when boredom strikes in. “Weekly averaged 8 hours and 24 minutes of screen time a day”

What if we don’t perceive because our senses or cognitive ability isn’t capable to understand? Maybe we lack of time necessary to grasp something. To study a text, listening to music or to watch a movie. How often do we miss out details but noticing when watching the same movie for the second time? It’s repetition that’s important for comprehension. Like how an old-fashioned slideshow can be very dragging but throughout deep focus on contemplating the single slide images, a feeling of slowness change your state of mind and give space to commingle our activities of looking, reviewing, recalling and comparing – the way that time plays in our visual comprehension. In contradiction with social media where an endless stream of images passes your daily feed till haziness follows. “Weekly averaged 23 hours and 43 minutes of screen time a day”.

However, in attempt to perceive and to grasp information, tuning on the right pitch is key. Its where measurable clock time is the opposite of the fluctuating ‘screentime’, unlike the notification badge on my smartphone. Once, modulated by the excess of screens, I’ll try to retrieve the information that’s hijacked by time, but for now, time is running out…

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Camera limits

Cosmic microwave background (white noise)
or, Signal of the universe big bang. Background hum, radio signal from space. Afterglow of the big bang. Creation of the universe.