Measured Time

Tomorrow we will run faster

Tomorrow we will run fast

Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Kovacs and Natalie Mathieson Photograph Jamie Lyons

The lights go up to reveal two women standing side by side on stage. Behind them is a projection of a standard battery controlled clock. As the second hands ticks and tocks from 12 all the way round to 12 again, the women join in its iterations of time, passing tick and tock across them as if locked in a perpetual dialogue.

This circular journey, though arduous to endure, should soon be over. The journey from 12 to 12 we know all too well as 60 seconds. A minute should pass like a breeze. But not here. Every moment of the second hand is of unknown length. No pattern can be found in the changes of interval between tick and tock. Though the second hand will only complete one revolution around the clock face, the performance continues for 30 minutes and 30 seconds, as all permutations for the length of a ‘second’ from 60 to 1 arrive in random order.

The women struggle against this time. Repeating tick or tock over extended periods, their voices falter, they double over out of breath again and again, trying to recover in uncertain lulls but always held to a kind of permanent unpredictable attention by time, evermore their cruel taskmaster.

Tomorrow we will run faster plays with our preconceived notions of live and recorded time. In general, we expect a clock to be faithful and true, to pulse with a rhythm so deeply ingrained it is second only to our heartbeats.  We are wise, though, to the trickery of film. We have seen clocks run backwards to evoke time travel, sped up or slowed down to reveal a character’s stress or out-of-jointness. These tricks, though they vary in style and intention, always remain faithful to a regular passage of time regardless of its speed or direction. Tomorrow we will run faster begs to differ.

Each iteration of the recorded second hand devours the live players. They are not simply live expressions of a slowed footage but forced into uncertain dimensions, wracked by multiple temporal expressions. The audience too is held by a jarring alertness. Though perhaps accustomed to being witness to a performance that lasts a very long time, or one that repeats in such a way and for such a period of time that life could appear reduced to one endless task, or perhaps having wished for a performer to speed up or slow down, to return their actions to what feels like the normal passage of time, the audience has not felt time like this before. There is no sensuous rhythm to lull you through time here, no comfort in the constant passage of this time. Instead you join all three, clock, she and she, in shudders and jars through shades of time.

Technical Director: Willoughby Cunningham

Tomorrow we will run faster premiered at PSi19, Stanford University, California in July 2013. Video documentation coming soon. Read PSi blog response here.

Tick  / Tock

Tick  / Tock  looks at the fictional organisation of time where tick stands for a beginning and tock for an end. This accepted convention suggests that different qualities of time are expressed by tick and tock, also that the silent interval between tick and tock is pregnant with some sort of purpose while the interval between tock and the next anticipated tick is left to fall away, cast as a rest or void.

Two characters sit side by side with a clock between them. As the seconds pass, they utter the familiar tick / tock pattern but one’s beginning is the other’s end. Each character plays with the stress of their speech, shifting their emphasis on tick or tock, altering the position of each in the standard flow of spoken time. The location and importance of the interval between the temporal terms is also subject to the same flux. Ultimately, the form routinely given to time is revealed as illusory and arbitrary.

Tick  / Tock was presented at Journey Across Media: Time Tells.