Xenia Busalova - matchsticks from porcelain
One day - One match
"What if there is no time?", 2019
Every night, when the day is gone, I make one matchstick from porcelain. Those matchsticks, like temporal fractals, appear ceaselessly, one a day, composing the mathematical sequence by append-only method. I fire raw porcelain in the kiln, assign the dates, and keep those turned-to-stone matches in dated matchboxes. Though the date itself says nothing, only numbers, it unfolds when there is a story, an interplay between subjectivity of that day and cultural understanding.
In Greek, the meaning of historia is ‘a collection of occurrences’. Simple objects, divested of their function and abstracted from any practicality, those porcelain matchsticks as sense data, claim a status outside of the commonly-coded individual things, and trace an allegorical journey in linear time. The fundamental venture of this collection is to translate real time into a physical dimension, to establish a fixed repertory of cognitive references in a form of archiving. To grasp the pure conjunction of passing time and expose the intangible time in an absolute tangible presence - to measure passing time in spatiotemporal units.
What if there is no time? After all, the Earth seems to be flat. We see colours, hear sounds and feel textures. Perceiving time is not associated with any one particular sense. We do not see, hear or touch time passing. If all our senses stopped functioning for a while, we could still notice the passing of time through the changing pattern of our thought - we notice time through perception of change.
Perception of time invites objection. Insofar as time is something different from events, we do not perceive time, but only sequences of events in time. Arguably, we do not only perceive events, but also their temporal relations. What we perceive, we perceive as present — as going on right now — but we may perceive as present things that are past. Thus, it seems we only ever perceive what is past.
The passage of time is its most striking feature. The present has no duration and must be regarded as durationless, because while an event is still happening, its duration cannot be assessed. St Augustine's answer to this riddle is that what we measure when we measure the duration of an event or interval of time, is located in the memory. From this, he derives the conclusion that past and future exist only in the mind.
The brain represents time by means of time: that temporally ordered events are represented by similarly temporally ordered experiences. This makes the representation of time unique. In other media, time can be represented spatially (as in analogue clocks) or numerically (as in calendars and digital clocks). The clocks and their metric outputs can be defined as measurements of temporal information.
Analogue representation presumes that there is always a loss of information in any analogue-to-digital conversion, which means that analogue representations must contain more information than digital. Analogue representations must also be continuous and represent by approximation. Final criteria are that any representation must allow for misrepresentation and cognitive integration. The psychology of time — particularly the study of how the mind estimates the duration of time and is acquainted with the present — has become an important area of research in cognitive science. The phenomenal present has no metric constraints.
When we experience the flow of time, we appeal to integration mechanisms, such as those involved in the integration of the sensorial present. From a set of frozen time slices, integration mechanisms produce the illusion of passage and motion as the experience of continuous succession rather than a mere succession of experiences. The representations of time are best understood as representations produced by our sensorial apparatus. Our temporal experience is limited in a way in which our spatial experience is not. We can perceive objects that stand in a variety of spatial relations to us: near, far, above or below. According to the representative theory of perception, we perceive external objects only by perceiving some intermediate object, a sense datum.
I refer to representation as a term of art, therefore I define it as I please.
It is my daily ritual and commitment to represent the irreversibility of time in physical matter, signalled in the every day I live. Every day is closer to the last, and almost everything - fears, failures, expectations, etc - falls away in the face of finitude, leaving only what is important. I appeal to the visual and tactile as the most dominant and reliable senses of perception.
in Le Grand K, (ed. D.Loyko, K.Tendl, A.Khora), Royal College of Art, pp. 166-173
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