At first glance, the exhibition currently gracing the Fishbowl Gallery of the Visual Arts Center may seem contained, even minimal: a lone LCD screen hangs on the long white wall of the left wing while 15 modestly sized photographs occupy the other. The understated presentation, however, provides a foil for the strikingly vast, varied nature of the project.
"Make Time, Take Time" was the first assignment Assistant Professor of Art Alicia Eggert gave to the 13 students in her Art and Time course. The project required students to each "physically manifest or 'become' time for one hour," filming themselves performing the passage of their 60 minutes. The individual students' segments were then stitched together into a 24-hour video, which has been playing in the Fishbowl since last Wednesday, accompanied by film stills on the other side of the gallery.
Students took a wide range of approaches to the project. Matt Rasmussen '14 assigned numbers to the keys of a piano and played them as the corresponding minutes passed. Dana Hopkins '14 enlisted her friends to form numbers with their bodies on the stage of Pickard Theater; Hugo Barajas '12 used goldfish to represent minutes, adding 60 fish to several bowls over the course of an hour.
One of the most compelling hours of the video is the segment comprising 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., created by Devin Hardy '13. Hardy addressed the tension between order and entropy inherent in timekeeping by dropping paper numbers into the Androscoggin and filming them as they floated away.
"I was trying to make it this very ordered process of dropping numbers in every minute, and it was supposed to go a certain way, but the numbers would sort of fold on themselves and get stuck on things and none of it worked out perfectly," she said. Hardy embraced this unpredictability, which she felt heightened the effect of the piece by juxtaposing the courses of nature and human control.
Ethan Nonomura '12 also introduced irregularity and chance into his project, writing the time on balloons and inflating them every minute for an hour. Nonomura said he was drawn to balloons as a medium for their humor, happiness, and underlying suspense: "There's a tension with balloons where you're kind of nervous they're going to pop—they're irregular and unpredictable," he said.
While most of the videos' viewers may only catch a quick glimpse as they pass by, the project rewards sustained watching. By the end of Nonomura's video, he is out of breath and flushed from blowing up the 60 balloons, prompting the viewer to consider time's effect on the body.
Given the diversity of the different hours, the entire 24-hour video is far from homogenous. Its variety, however, does not compromise its capacity to communicate, as the project presents a coherent conceptual challenge: we tend to perceive the passage of time as a highly regular, fluid process as the steadily circling hands of a clock suggest, but it is entirely relative. Just as different people experience time in entirely different ways, our individual perceptions of time and how fast it is moving can vary wildly.
"I personally am attracted to things that move very slowly, because it encourages people to really question what they're seeing and question their own perception of the world," said Eggert, who created an hour of the class' video and has worked with time in her personal practice.
Eggert acknowledged that watching a whole hour of the video—or more—can be tedious, but the experience of engaging with the project and becoming aware of one's own sense of time can be both exciting and meditative.
In addition to the Fishbowl, the entire video can be viewed at www.maketimetaketime.com. The website is designed to read the time of visitors' computers and jump to that part of the project, personalizing one's viewing experience. Ryan Hinkel, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, designed the site and is hoping to show the project there.
"I think what's really exciting about it is that its scope is reaching beyond Bowdoin," said Eggert, who hopes to expand the project even further, encouraging people from all over the world to submit hour-long videos she could curate into new clock projects.
Despite the often striking, cryptic and poetic content of the video constantly playing in the Fishbowl, Eggert and her students said they have not heard much in the way of campus feedback.
"I think it's almost more interesting if people neglect it because I think we tend to either go in one of two directions when it comes to time," said Hardy. "We're either faithfully checking constantly and trying to be on schedule for everything or losing track of it...so I think it's interesting to see...whether or not people even pay attention to it."