Scanning the web on a 4d-related search, I happened upon a presentation by Tim Maudlin, who is a distinguished member of the NYU philosophy department faculty. Dimensionality is important to some areas of his work/research/thinking. I want to share a presentation he made in 2011 at an FXQi conference on time. If you search for Tim, you'll find some really fascinating essays, interviews and presentations that touch on many of the questions we raise in the course of our explorations in dimensional art. If you check out the class he's teaching at NYU this spring, you'll note Tim is considering "the possibility that space-time is a fundamentally discrete structure rather than a continuum."
UPDATE: On March 12, I had the opportunity to visit Tim at his NYU office. We discussed his work for an hour, and ranged a bit, covering some territory re: 4D art and more. It was (for me) a truly fruitful and inspiring exchange. NYC is an amazing place. One day I find a powerful lecture online, and a few days later I'm in a face2face conversation with the presenter. This is definitely not a minor advantage to one's being situated in the BA.
I also came across two archives that I believe will be important to my work in coming months. One is the online William Blake archive. Another is a new online database hosted by Stanford University in partnership with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, focusing on the French Revolution. I am thinking of the two phenomena (Blake and the French Revolution), and by extension, the American revolution, as a triangulating set. The three subjects (WB-FR-AR), which produced many culturally important objects and narratives, can be examined as periodic concurrencies, with reaction and intercourse evident, along with variable features - obviously. In America, for instance, we didn't much use the guillotine, as far as I know. Blake was inspired by both revolutions, as demonstrated in his work. In the technical, artistic aspects, there is much rich stuff to be mined. The significance of the printing press to all aspects of our data-triangle is worth a look. I am looking forward to sampling textures from the prints contained in the archives, and reformatting them in various digital applications, and some analog ones as well. In the past I've appropriated images of Blake for animations and digi-paitings, and worked with a few iconic images from the Revolutionary Era. These visions (Blake's, the revolutionaries') remain vital and relevant. Moreover, I'm very impressed by the influence of the variety of systems (ideological, aesthetic, philosophical, spiritual) that inform the technical expressions and representations we see in our 3-point database. It seems to me that the disruption of the reign of kings and queens precipitated by the revolutions (and by the artists who were contemporary to them), heralded a new expressive arc and age, one in which style was dictated less by the crown and more by the artist, that is until the market arose to its current dominance, to some extent attaining to the power formerly enjoyed by monarchs. Some of these topics (like "style") I've frequented before, elsewhere. To consider the state of the style now would be an extensive project, yes? Such a project would be pointless if we chose not to point to the fracturing of style from the dictates of the kings and queens' courts of Europe, and its relocation in the masses, or the imaginations of makers. I'll leave it at that for now.
In the course of preparing for my interview with Tim, I happened to come across and reread an essay I found immensely rewarding the second time round: Christoph Wulf, "The Temporality of World-Views and Self-Images," Looking Back at the End of the World (p.49). If you get a chance, I encourage you to check it out. Here's a quote:
By Paul McLean
PREFACE: The following travelog was composed under the auspices of Mercury Retrograde. If you don't happen to know what MR is, the Google can help. The occasion was a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to dodge through winter storms and deliver art for the opening exhibit for David Lusk Gallery. The journey was infused from start to finish with the theme of re-visitation. I reconnected with some friends from "a previous life" in that city. I encountered dozens of people with whom I was to varying degrees familiar, but each relationship was, I soon realized, in the interim, profoundly shaped by time's passage. Time unfolded in each individual's past decade in unpredictable ways. In no instance did I feel that I could have predicted ten years ago what the person in front of me now would be doing today. Appearance and appearances hardly meshed with any assumptions I might have entertained back when I moved away from Nashville in the early 2000s. The socio-organizational dynamics of Nashville have shifted significantly, since I left. As with any change on that scale, whether the changes are good or bad depends on whom you're asking. Our (thinking of collectives DDDD and 01 and the circles they touched) old haunts no longer resembled themselves, except superficially, or in a durational sense, as a function of prevailing structures, in their cultural container capacities, not necessarily as expressions of architecture and design. The housing itself could not dictate the internal content of those for whom it had been erected. Over a two-week+ visit, I felt more each day like "a ghost in the machine," the mechanism being time (past-present tense, with a nod to possible futures). My apparitional state was probably partly derivative of my own memories, tied to habits and patterns, established over years of usage, and made obsolete by prolonged absence. People make fun of the Civil War re-enactors, plentiful in the South, but I had the prevailing awareness that we all were to various degrees living in Creative Anachronism. In my displacement from Nashville to many points on the globe, I had made few adjustments to evolve with the community here. My network of relationships had largely dissolved, and my efforts to perpetuate them did not match the inertial and entropic forces that frayed and then broke my ties within the communities I inhabited in Nashville, in the past. A few times during this trip, I set out to find some of my old pals. The searches were fairly successful. Then was the general scan of the cultural configuration, the production map. Figuring out where the points of convergence are now for the creative class, its meeting places and hangs, didn't prove too difficult. I just had to ask around. I discovered through a few conversations with knowledgeable folk that my sense that the city had transformed, due to certain factors (political, cultural, and economic) was on the whole, accurate. The web, ubiquitous mobile devices, social media and other e-communications tools had impacted the scene powerfully. The evaporation of daily and weekly local print news coverage in Nashville has dramatically changed the movement of info in Nashville. Trends in the demographics of the city have played a role, when combined with the emerging topologies of population locus and makeup. The interest in and attention paid to fine art in the Music City is moving in a trajectory that reflects national urban planning ideas for establishing Creative Class-friendly culture. Cost of living as a strategy is a subtle leverage for the reformation of Nashville (as it is elsewhere, like Downtown LA for example, or Williamsburg in Brooklyn). Entertaining knowledge workers involves regular, safe artsy happenings. On a side note, I had a poignant moment when I juxtaposed the tenements nearby, such as the ones on Edgehill, to the condo and rental loft complexes lining Nashville corridors like Wedgewood. Making a list of differences between the two types of residences leaves one a disturbing set of similarities. Anyway, to summarize my evaluation of Nashville's cultural landscape, leaving many details out here in the interests of brevity, the fundamental casualty of the city's management scenario is the face-to-face public encounter at the local cafe, restaurant or bar, which served as the best kind of production lubricant. Between 1996-2003, the Nashville scene was a facilitator and percolator of juicy good horizontal dimensional art collabs. I am guessing the processor has enforced adjustments to the froth, and like a flower that blooms only under optimum circumstances, that phenomenon I was most fortunate enough to experience, is reformed. I look forward to further learning more about the new forma. I recognize the program might be for me uncomfortable at times, but that is the thing about witnessing, through a lens of love, minus nostalgia, the once-beloved.
I don't want to live in any time other than now. Really. It is not an
option, in fact, but that is immaterial. I don't wish to replay my
early 20s, for example (for a few reasons, which are not pertinent here). I
wouldn't prefer to open my eyes one morning to discover I've awakened
in the 1700s, either, or be magically beamed ahead in time to the
2400s. Can anyone with certainty forecast what the future of 2443 is?
Will it be "better" or "worse" than now? Anyway, the dream of time
travel is a vacuous one, at least as it is projected in general, as a
vehicle for a person, along the lines of Dante' Divine Comedy.
We can look at the notion through a different lens and assemble a more
interesting conjecture. Why not begin here: All of us are traveling in
time, the only object. "Traveling" may actually be an incorrect way to
think about our condition, relative to time. The relationship may be
existential. Man's coordination with time may be multi-faceted, if you
will, objective, since we are to a degree physical entities,
manifestations as such, if not creations. For beings so situated,
wrestling with the nature of our functional consciousness, attached as
it to flesh, we will have to confront the difficulty of perception, in
It's difficult to obtain a decent perspective on the subject(s)
pertaining to time, as an object, or even a concept, since our point
of origin is within time. Part of the comprehension problem involves
physicality and attachment to its sensations. To illustrate: How can
one comprehend a mountain, while standing on it, without supplemental
awareness that affords one perspectival multiplicity and assorted
other superpowers for comprehensive perception?
If one could access universal or infinite vision, that would solve the
problem, I suppose. Perhaps that's why we all long for perceptual
totality, for omniscience. Or perhaps omni-science is exactly what's
necessary to achieve total awareness of one's situation in space-time.
At what point can mankind hope to achieve *that*?! This is more the
case, if we address time, time as the only object, and/or time as
[All command is time-based.]
Today we have a lot of mapping tools, some of which are sophisticated.
Most of these instruments are rooted in the third dimension. We can
create prodigiously detailed cartography for form and volume, as long
as the form we are representing remains static, is changeless. What in
the universe stays put? That is the problem with realism. A perfect
picture, a perfect documentation of a thing is true only for an
instant, if ever. Then there are other problems. The universe a thing
inhabits is moving. The thing itself consists of particles that are
moving, that can hardly be defined as "solid" in any meaningful
We also have attained sophistication in our counting machines. The
Turing devices we employ in a host of tools and toolsets has greatly
expanded our capacity for calculation. They have not produced an
artificial intelligence that might serve as supplemental to man, in
the kind of co-sentient arrangement described above as perspectival
multiplicity and omni-science. Just as AI has resisted manufacture by
counting tool, what if real space-time is insoluble through science
rooted in the numerical, or at least 1,2 or 3 dimensional number
systems? What is the point of counting infinity by assigning numbers
for counting space-time, as in 2D cartography? What if man must
develop a new way of representing reality, such as space-time. No one
can with certainty can contradict the statement, "Space-time is
infinite." For 4D science, perhaps we must imagine other means than
those science developed to solve tasks in 1-3 dimensions.
Why this dissatisfaction with our state in time? Why entertain the
desire to escape the time program? Time is unerringly beautiful,
harmonious and perfect, at least it seems that way to me. I am
comfortable with bending space and other kinds of phenomena that
resist simplification, like turbulence, especially when holistically
the system the phenomenon appears to be indicative of is a system that
resists simplification, while exhibiting cohesion, which is simplicity
itself, a kind of unity. Why not accept it? Why try to make it into
something it is not? Why, for example, try to make the universe adhere
to the rules of zero and one?
First of all, attempting to get around or get over on time will not
work, at least for us finite folk. Time rolls up behind us. Time comes
at us like a massive wave, to crash exactly on us, in every instant.
To play at beating time is a folly. That said, man is defined by his
Man will never end time. Man may invent a folly. He may pretend the
end of time is near, is coming, has arrived, is bound to happen,
unless we do x,y or z. Who knows, if time will actually end while any
people are alive to witness it. What difference would it make? You
could not discuss the event after the fact, or remember it later.
Everything would be over, finished. Without time, nothing exists. Or
to put it another way, does nothing exist outside of time?
Is timelessness a virtuous quality? When does one not have time? The
mundane fallacies involving time are plentiful. Language dances around
time all the time. What word exists outside of time? I believe that
one of the great powers vested in the God of the Bible is the power to
create man and his universe with commanding words, but this God still
is accomplishing those feats on a daily timeline. I can understand why
any analyst concerned about time might be skeptical about this
Creation story, and its particular orientation to and in time. At any
rate, this story is certainly not the only one.
Man has invented his own conceptions of time, and timelessness, and
his relativity to time or its absence. Man thinks about time and has
questions about the nature of time, of nature relative to time, of man
in nature, with respect to time, and so on. "Time" may not even be the
correct term for what we are addressing here. What exactly is time,
anyway? Show me the person capable of answering this question, in its
totality, in all its implications.
What is Greenwich Mean Time, but an invention, made normative by
usage? The arbitrary traits of GMT and all its derivatives and
contingencies are legion, compounding and subject to mechanical error
in applications. Man has gauged time by rising and setting celestial
bodies, which operate in cycles, resistant to exactitude.
Object-attached time is demonstrably problematic. Aging as a process
tells us little about time itself. We can conjecture the passing of
millions and billions of years, but what universal meaning does such a
conjecture exhibit? The unfolding of time in the domain of objects is
anything but conclusive. Such conjectures provide some measure of
practicality in certain applications, but something like carbon dating
cannot possibly exhaust all questions about all phenomena in every
quadrant of existence. Science in this aspect must be satisfied with
incremental, limited progress. At present time itself is incalculable.
Time is mysterious still. Why?
Maybe we are looking at time the wrong way. Or maybe we are looking at
ourselves relative to time incorrectly. What if we have gotten time
all wrong? That would certainly explain a lot.