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Time is up/ Time is now

Elisabeth Eigenthaler



dyed polyamid, silver, painted silver

The basis of this work is time as a measurable quantity that describes the sequence of events in an non-reversible direction. To measure it, man has invented the clock as a physical representation of time. Specifically, I am concerned with the question of the value and the loss of value of time. What gives value to a clock, if not the material it is made of? If we deconstruct time of its measurable value, what is left? The subject of the series of works are digital watches. In the piece "Time is up" the time display is deconstructed and thus the reference of time is literally missing. In the second piece "Time is now" the blank time display is highlighted by a seemingly more precious metal than the rest of the watch as to indicate the current moment as most important and most valuable. Not only is the way of measuring time man-made, but also the things we do to our planet and our society with that time. If we miss the right moment to act our "time is up" and we'll find ourselves in a man-made apocalypse. Another aspect deals with watches as status symbols the context of the jewelry industry. While in the past the watch itself sufficed as a representation of status, it is now complimented by the metafunctions of modern digital watches in terms of performance (human measured performance or technical functions of a watch itself) that represent the status of the wearer. Since the digital revolution the analog watch is losing more and more of its original function – time measurement. The digital technology that surrounds us and the one we carry with us like pacemakers (mobile phones, smart watches) have replaced it in its functionality. Those who still wear an analog watch do so primarily for reasons of adornment, because it carries an emotional or representative value of the wearer. Watches which are worn for functional reasons must now be able to do more than just measure time: communicate, pay, measure and optimize performance,... they track, control, command us every single step of our lives. All these functions represent in my point of view the human endeavor to define ourselves by performance, success and to be able to optimize time. The pressure of competition and the status that comes with a succesful performance are perfectly matching with the values we find in our capitalistic system. I think thats why those pieces of jewelry perfectly serve as trophies to symbolize these values. They have become emblems of the invasion of performance optimization from working life to our leisure time. My work can also be read as a reminder of the time we have on our hands, to handle it with more awareness, care, respect and responsibility. Instead of hustling and trying to make the fullest of it in a performance-oriented and capitalistic way, we should instead reconnect with time in its most substantial way by revaluating the now. 

Apocalypse Statement 

The end of the world, the end of times, the turn of an era... Apocalypse is something we associate very strongly with an event that lies in the future. But what if the apocalypse becomes the present. By the time we reach that "future", the time we thought was ahead of us has already passed. What if in all the pessimism we find room for optimism and hope. When the apocalypse is here, we can no longer push all the haunting topics into the future, instead they are here to be dealt with. My contribution concerns the dualistic view of the term "apocalypse". The fact that an apocalyptic event splits the time into a "before" and an "after" is one option for a dualistic discussion. Another option is given by evaluating the term positively or negatively. The title of my work should reflect exactly this point of view. A part of my work sees itself as a reminder or warning (Time is up). It represents the dark or pessimistic side, that on one hand we've already "lost" against time. The second part describes the positive outlook, the value of the moment we are in (Time is now). The piece shows the bright or optimistic side, that the right time to act is now. It is about recognizing and perceiving one's responsibility, taking action instead of falling into lethargy. I think the subject "time" is a suitable means for the topic, since everything that brings us closer to the moment of apocalypse is measured in time, e.g. world overshoot day, equal pay day, fat cat day and much more. Measuring time itself is something man-made. Similar to our current crisis, be it on the level of society, health, economy, ecology, energy or wars. The impact of those events are always measured refering to a specific point of time. However, we should not consider them as an excuse for resignation, but to see them as signs to take action. On an individual level, you only really become aware of the value of time when it is running against you, when you start counting the days since the start of a pandemic or war or other crisis. Or when it has already run out. We make use of innumerable phrases about the possibility of manipulating time to express emotions: Time stands still, time has been taken away from us. Sometimes we would like to erase time, or turn it back. All this is subject to the illusion or more a fantasy to deconstruct time and to reconstruct it in another place or under other circumstances. Everything suggests the powerlessness of man in the face of the uncontrollability of time, yet we are not powerless. We just need to start using the time we have in a meaningful way.

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