This drawing study apes the kind of efforts of 17th-century luminaries made to reduce the essence of cosmic phenomena to a set of simple ideal forms. In this project I attempt to sum up the dominant ways of picturing time over the course of human history in chronological sequence.
The snake represents the ancient cyclical model, in which all things return, like the Sun. The rays falling from the cloud describe a sense of history being directed by Divine Plan from the Heavens. The arrow is the modern idea of history as a line of progress. The fourth drawing, the knot, is my proposed counter-model to the line, in the spirit of what I interpret to be the figure for time as we actually live it in the 18th-century novel Tristram Shandy.
Each of the four models of time is mounted inside an abstract geometric version of itself. For example, the knot is set within a tridecagon or thirteen-sided polygon.
On the one hand, this study is a way of coming to understand how differently humans think about time depending on their cultural and historical context. On the other, the very attempt to tell the history of ideas about time like this is a symptom of the parochialism it’s aiming to unsettle; not all cultures share the European impulse (my impulse) to reduce the universe to ideal geometric forms and a straight line of cause and effect.
It’s flawed, yet despite or because of that, the process of making this drawing study has value for me in thinking through my own idea of time.
Geometries of Time: I (cyclical/ouroboros); II (vertical/divine rays); III (horizontal/arrow); IV (immeasurable/knot), 2013
Materials & dimensions
* 4 framed drawings (graphite on paper, card passepartout, acrylic frame)
* 30 × 30 × 3 cm
* before breakfast we talked about the furthest visible point before it all disappeared, with Fay Nicolson, Kentaro Yamada, Andrea Zucchini and The School of the Event Horizon, Tenderpixel, London (2014)
* Tenderpixel at Art Rotterdam, with Erika Hock, Fay Nicolson and Ilona Sagar (2015)
Images (from top)
* 4 × digital version of Geometries of Time by Cathy Haynes, 2014
* Tenderpixel installation shot of Geometries of Time by Cathy Haynes, 2014 (photo by Original&theCopy; courtesy of the artists and Tenderpixel ©2014)
* Tenderpixel installation shot of Geometries of Time by Cathy Haynes alongside sculpture by Kentaro Yamada (photo by Original&theCopy; courtesy of the artists and Tenderpixel ©2014)