Thursday, January 17, 2013

Collapsing time for fish ... and others

Today's post is a sketch for what I'm thinking about presenting PM 7: Monday evening at Gasser Grunert Gallery The event, "Trigger Points after the storm," is "contained" by another artist, Alyce Santoro, who has an installation in the gallery and invited me to present as part of a series of talks and events intended to generate productive discussion. The invitation happened to have come in the midst of a series of other events claiming my attention.

When I was young and first lived full-time in NYC, it was the sixties. I went to the Art Students League and NYU during the day, Cooper Union night school in the evening, topped off the night at the jazz spot, Slug's or dancing at the Electric Circus, went to shows, worked with Joseph Pilates, performed with the Bread and Puppet Theatre, participated in demonstrations, joined E.A.T. and felt like being in that whirl at that time opened me to the whole universe, was good for my work and would lead me to "answers" to the burning questions of that time. And I suppose somewhat it was and did but it was also a very hectic way to live and I think there were invisible casualties.

Since 2007, James White and I have spoken about a different kind of whirl, what I call a collapse of time, the effects on the world of a confluence of climate change, species loss, over-human populations and so on. Biogeographical events are unfolding at a dizzying speed with both invisible and visible casualties. It's easy for most people, however, to ignore those collapses and casualties and simply stay focused on the known. Of course, for many, it is not possible to take that option. It is not possible for coastal communities, farmers in drought stricken or fire-prone areas, island nations, urban areas, such as Delhi, India, whose aquifer is dwindling... or fish.  Fish are particularly helpless to adapt to these rapidly changing conditions. They can't travel to safety where the water stops, when it stops. They are among the invisible and visible casualties of collapse. And that is why they are the focus of Fish Story.

My life still seems replete with multi-tasking on too many days, and that seems to be increasing, to my discomfort. Certainly, this week that is true. It doesn't seem as much fun as it was in the sixties. The stakes seem higher. I have less stamina to weather the shifts. I am getting a dose of time collapse. I wonder even for those of us privileged to live in prosperous areas, such as NYC, whether one unknown is how to cope with a world where many things are happening at the same time, all of which seem to be demanding our attention with equal urgency, a world where our time is collapsing with few obvious answers to the problems we glimpse in passing? Monday evening in the gallery, I intend to try to set up a situation which simulates some aspects of that time collapse simultaneity in rapid succession and see what insights might emerge from the discussion afterwards.

On FB last night I wrote:

Preparing for my Trigger Point event Monday, I've been thinking about how to define the "collapse of time," of the anthropocene, the phenomena of too many changes happening faster than any species can assimilate. I feel like I've been experiencing it all day. Today I did singing practice, wrote fundraising cover letters for Fish Story in Memphis, worked on GIS, my dissertation, an article, co-ordinated art pick up, organized my bills, did some filing, vacuumed, responded to a family issue, contacted or switched appointments with about 20 people and trimmed my eyebrows.


  1. Your day, as described, although not the same in its content, is equally as chaotic in its drives as mine feels. I've wondered if it is the age we're in, or the age I am. But I know I have a lot of company in this. I enjoyed your rumination upon it.

  2. It took me till now to find comments on my site, Ravenna!! Thank you for commenting :)