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Tag "myTime"

Architecture theory and practice has changed dramatically with the use of computers. A lot has changed or has been adapted, but for many a radical new orientation lies still ahead. There are some fundamental shifts in the way a process oriented thinking of architecture manages the different steps from analysis to design to construction and beyond. The way it can integrate and mange thousands of parameters using algorithms and using it to dynamically model the progress is challenging a profession still largely clinging on to a modernist objectivity and distance.

Kas Oosterhuis is appointed professor digital design methods at the Delft Technical University and leads Hyperbody, the knowledge center for Nonstandard and Interactive Architecture at the TU Delft. His recent book ‘Towards a New Kind of Building is published by NAi Publishers (2011) and was discussed earlier on urbanTick.

With this interview we want to focus on the wider context of a new kind of building and specifically on some of the time constraints in architecture as a whole but towards a new building as such. Time is playing a more prominent role in architecture as as proposed by Kas Oosterhuis, both factual and secondary as an element of the process of designing, building and running projects and buildings.

Digital pavilion - 360 panorama render floor2_perspective1
Image by ONL / Digital Pavilion Seoul by ONL 2007. Design team: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Chris Kievid, Christian Friedrich, Marthijn Pool, Gijs Joosen, Dieter Vandoren, assisted by Petr Vokal, Jan Gasparik, Matthijs Frederiks, Tade Godbergsen, Tim McGinley, Wouter Slot. Pavilion for digital media in media complex.

urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Kas Oosterhuis: I would rather say that it important to be actual, that is exploring and eventually incorporating actual technologies in the theory and practice of architecture and building

urbanTick: Would you then also say this incorporation results in actual buildings, buildings, beyond the technology, that are on time?
Kas Oosterhuis: Just there, just then, just that, just thus

urbanTick: With the technological focus of the current western society time is often said to run faster than in the past. Does this also apply to architecture?
Kas Oosterhuis: More things happen simultaneously, we are living in a world that fosters multiplicity, we are living inside evolution and we feel it stronger since there are more thing evolving at the same time then ever

Airport of Media - the Launchpad in group mode
Image by ONL / AOM Launchpad by ONL 2011 – Design team: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Gijs Joosen, Ilaria Giardiello, Lieneke van Hoek, Miro Strigác. A family entering and navigating the Launchpad sorts out a much bigger effect on the whole installation. The members of the family browse some shared and individual preferences, causing the AOM Launchpad to crystallize into higher definition zones in all directions they are looking to. The family thus creates a semi- enclosed space, open to other visitors navigating the pad. One single AOM Launchpad may host more then one family.

urbanTick: You are often integrating the term ‘Real Time’ in your texts for TaNKoB. How do you interpret the meaning of ‘Real Time’ for your work?
Kas Oosterhuis: Real time is introduced in my work since 1999 since I designed the Trans-Ports project, the pavilion that changes shape and content in real time. Since then we are more and more conscious of the fact architecture, which is the art of building, and building must be considered as processes then unfold in real time, processes that never stop, processes that are executable, processes that run endless chains of cellular automata. We learned from Stephen Wolfram that nature itself must be considered as a computation. We add to that that all man-made components must be seen as nature, and thus as a computation.

urbanTick: Is there such a thing as a timelessness in architecture?
Kas Oosterhuis: No such thing, that is an arrogant invention of modernists as to declare their view the best possible view on architecture.

urbanTick: With the introduction of these dynamics how are you seeing the profession to change, especially the modernist role of overall creator?
Kas Oosterhuis: I am a specialist, I do no since long time not believe in the myth of the “uomo universale”, the generic creator that rules his/her puppets on his/her strings. Conversely I work as a specialist in a team with other specialists. The task of the architect of today is to clearly define hi/her role as a specialist.

Cockpit - ProE edges

Cockpit - overview sunset
Image by ONL / Hessing Cockpit by ONL 2005. Car showroom incorporated in an acoustic barrier.

urbanTick: You are introducing a New Kind of Building based on your own work reaching back 20 years. for trends and fashion in architecture what role plays the classification of time?
Kas Oosterhuis: I do not think in terms of trends and fashion, that is all too superficial for me. But I do think in terms like evolution, based on an internal drive to go on and explore possibilities, and evolution naturally is evolving over time.

urbanTick: How much time is needed for a master piece to evolve as an icon of its time, both in terms of process and in terms critical distance?
Kas Oosterhuis: I can only speak for myself, I was already in the national picture right after my studies, then intentionally took a decade of advanced practice of office building, then came out with my own explicit views on intuitive use of the computer, and another 5 years to accomplish price winning projects like Elhorst/vloedbelt and Saltwaterpavilion. Ten to twenty years seems in general needed to come reach the critical level of insight and knowledge that is needed to be able to establish a deep practice of building. I would not use the iconic, that is how others might label it. I prefer the notion of a deep understanding of what one is doing.

Saltwater Pavilion_interior_10
Image by ONL / Saltwater Pavilion by ONL 1997. Design team: Kas Oosterhuis, Menno Rubbens, Ilona Lénárd, Károly Tóth. The water pavilion represents water in all its manifestations. the route through the water pavilion describes a vast loop. It takes the shape of a giant lemniscate, the mathematical symbol for infinity. The lemniscate is visible against the flanks of the body, both on the exterior and on the interior skin. “The Saltwaterpavilion has evolved from the very beginning of the design process as a three-dimensional computer model. We kneaded, stretched, bent, rescaled, morphed, styled and polished. He delineation of the form is laid down in the digital genes of the design that hold the germ of life. The first idea is the genetic starting point for all subsequent steps in the development. We no longer accept the domination of platonic volumes, the simplistic geometry of cube, sphere, cylinder and cone as the basic elements of architecture. That resolution is much too low. Our computers allow us to command millions of coordinates describing far more complex geometries.” ONL.

urbanTick: Time specific terms such as long and short, before and after, quick and slow are constantly used in everyday language and varying contexts. What role do they play in the parametric design/architecture discourse?
Kas Oosterhuis: The same, but better described as strong connections or weak connections. Objects subject to a strong connection move fast, the weaker connected components may move very very slow. Programming the connections literally means expanding the bandwidth of the strength of the connections, and thus of the speed of the objects. With programmable objects connected to sensor networks I can make building that do not move at all, that are completely frozen in their static movement. Conversely I can make environments that are alive and kicking, that change hallucinating fast for the human experience.

urbanTick: Is time money?
Kas Oosterhuis: I would argue that all building components in a parametric system are directly connected to a spreadsheet or database with parameters, most likely numbers. The value of money is one of these thousands of parameters, the ticks of time another represent another parameter, so there is a very loose connection, one of millions of connections. Money is parametrically related to time via the dynamic database

CapitalCentre - interface with floor shaping parameters
Image by ONL / Al Nasser Group Corporate Headquarters by ONL 2009. Design team Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Gijs Joosen, Marthijn Pool, Ronald Brandsma, Petr Vokal, Jan Gasparik, Tim McGinley. Although the design constraints were strict ONL has found a strategy which features a combination of an iconic architecture and a functional lay-out. ONL decided to develop a vase shaped tower, narrow at its base, gaining volume in the shaft and tapered towards the top. The vase has been styled by subtly slicing and chamfering the otherwise rectangular floor plan. Relatively modest interventions and parametric modifications of the rectangular basic shape while retaining the structural integrity of the design create the iconic appearance of the Al Nasser Group Headquarters Tower.

urbanTick: In one of the section ‘Versatile Time zones’ in the book TaNKoB you are talking about the resolution of time and propose in a thought experiment a high resolution world time. Rather than then current one hour time steps each place would have its own time based on the location. Would this be the perfect merge of time and space?
Kas Oosterhuis: It basically means not accepting time to be cut in very low-res pieces, and not accepting space to be cut in low-res chunks of matter. Our accepted time zone system is a rude abstraction of time and space, and I have argued that now we have the technology to scale up the resolution and merge time and place as it is, not as an abstraction.

urbanTick: With TaNKoB you are focusing on the programming of the process. What is the sort of time dimension of the architecture your are proposing?
Kas Oosterhuis: Buildings should live much shorter, in able to rethink and evolve technology as embedded in buildings. It would help if we could establish a law that for every new building another one should be taken down or thoroughly updated. Interestingly enough this would be much more sustainable then stretching the life of old, ineffective and often malfunctioning building. IT would give us the clue to improve the overall quality and performance of the built environment.

urbanTick: To what extend does the temporal dimension of architecture play in sync with a wider context, either in the architecture world with trends and interests or in the local cultural scene?
Kas Oosterhuis: Industrial products like clothes, computers, sensors, cars etc have a much shorter life-span, if we would sync with those products buildings would be much more in sync with their time.

urbanTick: You are giving the establishment of the pure digital revolution of building design another 50 years until it is a global standard. Is this a long time or a rather short period?
Kas Oosterhuis: We need sufficient critical mass for evolution to make the jump, like there was critical in the Cambrian period to give rise a vast number of new species, maybe Ray Kurzweil could answer this question based on his theory of the critical point in time [2040] where one single computer has reached the computation power of all human brains together on this earth.

Sculpture city - scale model of building sculpture in exhibition_2
Image by ONL / Sculpture City by ONL 1994. Design team: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Menno Rubbens. Can a building be a sculpture? Can a sculpture be a building? Or more precise: can buildings be autonomous sculptures? The functionality of the building is just one out of thousands of parameters effecting the resulting image of the concept. With each step in the series of instructions and acts the functionality of the building is equivalent to other parameters. There is no hierarchy of arguments but their procedure. The electronic skin of Cloud010 is alive. The sculpture buildings of Sculpture City are granting their own functioning. Form allows function in stead of form follows function. Similarly the sculpture buildings are permitting that they are subject to gravity, that they are shaped to a specific form, and that they eventually are materialized.

urbanTick: You are involved in teaching already for many years at different institutions. What role does this play in the emergence of a New Kind of Building, not as the publication but really the type?
Kas Oosterhuis: I have never been surfing fashionable waves that were found and mapped out by others, but rather have spent my time in finding the feet of promising new waves and worked my way up climbing that wave, the top of that wave is not even close but could out of the blue appear without a warning.

urbanTick: How much time do you devote to architecture? Is there time outside architecture?
Kas Oosterhuis: I never feel that I am busy, actually I feel that I have lots of time to relax and think things over, to lecture, to meet people, to write, to do gardening, to travel, to spend holidays in our datsja in Hungary where I am right now.

urbanTick: What is your strongest experience of time?
Kas Oosterhuis: That is when I manage to foresee something unlikely and yet it happens, that feels like changing time.

Oosterhuis, K., 2011. Towards a New Kind of Building: A Designerʼs Guide for Non-standard Architecture, Rotterdam: NAI Publishers.

In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the previous issues.

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Working remotely from a desk is nowadays very common and hardly anyone is thinking too much about it. However interestingly the differences between workplace and work create a sort of warp hole that needs to be managed in order to handle the strains put on both parties.

Nicholas Poltorak is managing the BP Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker fleet around the world, normally from the headquarter in London. We are not discussing politics or environment here, but time. we are interested in the differences and the common constraints.
Events can change rather quickly and with it the destination of each of the tanker. Decisions have to be taken quickly and is there a “POR’, a point of no return in the daily practice of LNG shipping management? And on the other hand how is it all connected to the live on board and hectic there?


urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Nicholas Poltorak: Yes depending on what type of time you mean, physical time, in a particular time zone, contractual time, world time, decision time.

urbanTick: Picking up on your distinction of different times, in a sense you could add on more here – real time?
Nicholas Poltorak: Before answering whether it is important to be on time, it is important therefore to specify what type of time category is most relevant or important in any one moment.
Decision time: I consider this to be almost out of time as a decision made can have impacts that splinter and hit different time zones and areas at different moments.
World time: In my opinion this notion is that there is a sense of multi faceted, multi dimensional element of world experience. It is impossible to be on time in the global sense. It is perhaps the importance of your action or decision (see above) or the impact of actions and decisions that will determine that all conventional rules of time zone etiquette are broken and a global event affects everybody simultaneously. I could think of the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa as being such a moment, or the assassination of John F Kennedy would be another example. Global conferences might also fit into this type of concept of time.
Contractual time: Contracts are written or agreed upon verbally by millions of people every day. It could be an arrangement to buy a house, or a newspaper, or a cup of coffee. It can also relate to a series of contractual requirements (such as in my previous role) to nominate, confirm and deliver cargoes of LNG around the world. In some cases it is not commercially advantageous to meet these contractual obligations to the letter and be “on time” it is rather worth to stretch all the flexibility and delay fulfilling certain contractual requirements till as late as possible. In a sense by delaying you are creating a new time framework within particular contracts. You are creating a new time construct for the contract.
Time zone: Working with colleagues in different time zones will determine your behaviour and will affect whether you carry out certain activities earlier or later. In some cases you will adjust your schedule to be able to talk to a colleague, at other times you will delay work as you are aware there is no-one available in that time zone to respond to you “today”.
Again it is not a case of being “on time” but adjusting your actions in your time zone to be most efficient and effective when taking into account other time zones.
Calendar time: How time is split up into seconds, hours, days and months has a big impact on how we all perceive time and how we act within it. This time structure as with the others above is very culturally defined. The use of alarm clocks to break up our night time sleeping has a big impact on our lives and some might say is actually adapting our “body clocks” to the requirements of working life.
Natural time: The ebb and flow of the seasons, of light to darkness and back to light again.
These are experiences that
Physical or real time: I would define this as being the personal time zone of each individual.
Each individual will have time for decisions, be aware of global events that are happening in the global “now” if they are important. Individuals may also be aware of how to structure time to fit their own commercial or personal interests relating to contracts, relations with different parts of the world. They make their own compromises with the culturally defined days and weeks. There is nevertheless a very personal time zone in which we breathe, meditate, cry, laugh and create meaning for our lives. You are “on time” in this time category if you are listening to it and not being distracted by the other interpersonal time constraints around you.

urbanTick: You are working for one of the biggest supplier of gas and oil globally, can you describe your current workplace?
Nicholas Poltorak: I work in a global team from Canary Wharf. I sit in an open plan office surrounded by computer screens windows, sport and news bulletins as well as ship movement maps, gas pipeline flow numbers and lots of people. I work in a global team in my office: I work with people based here who come from Japan, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, France. In addition I work on the phone with members of the team based in Singapore, S Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the United States and Egypt. My role is to co-ordinate the supply of Natural Gas for BP on 7 ships and ensure that this activity is done safely and efficiently while providing the trading team with as much time and flexibility to change destinations of cargoes.

Image taken from marketwire.com/ Sempra LNG’s new Cameron LNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) receipt terminal near Lake Charles receives first cargo on June 21 aboard BP’s British Diamond, an LNG carrier bringing supplies from Trinidad.

urbanTick: Looking back, how have you come to this position and what is your background?
Nicholas Poltorak: I have come to this position after working in logistics and operations roles for the past 10 years. I started working for BP in 2001 and started in the company by applying for a role in the BP Chemicals European Customer Service Centre. Since 2001 I have carried out various logistics and operational roles arranging the transport of goods by truck, rail tank car, rail wagon, pipelines, ships, barges.
The Job title Operations means executing contracts physically. A trader agrees to buy or sell product and then relies on the operational staff to ensure that the purchase or sales contracts is physically implemented with regard to physical delivery, quality checking, invoicing and finally payment. A job in operations involves putting the written word in contracts into the 3 dimensional world and meeting the challenges that world throws up in the face of the varying contracts. Often production plants do not produce as much product as planned, ships are delayed, demand varies on a daily basis. Operations staff therefore have to deal with managing risk, change and uncertainty as well as being ready to solve problems and deal with unplanned incidents.

urbanTick: Your role involves a lot of management and organisation does that contain a sort of future time?
Nicholas Poltorak: That is a good point. In fact scheduling is dealing with future time. In a certain sense although the future must be planned for and taken into account in all operational work, there is a sense that we wish to cheat the future into revealing its secrets. What I mean by this is that in practical terms you know that a particular ship will need a certain number of days in the future before it can arrive at any one destination. You also know that you have certain commitments in the future: dates for cargoes to arrive and deliver.
However, while you have these fixed/flexible future commitments clearly in mind you wish you make the decision about how to deliver those commitments at a point as close to the date as possible.
In general terms however, I am doing a job which is very much concentrated on the future.

urbanTick: What are the differences between personal and work related time aspects?
Nicholas Poltorak: My work keeps me occupied and busy from 8.00am to 18.00pm everyday. I am very task focussed at work. In other words certain activities have to be completed each day. In addition deadlines emerge throughout the day as new trading opportunities emerge and new physical schedule scenarios need to be analysed. In work I wish to complete as much as I can in every hour of work. When I am spending time at home on a personal level I would like to maximise the amount of time I have free to think, relax, read, talk with friends and sleep without a task focussed approach.

Image taken from bp.com / Click image for current location of the vessel.
Type: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker | Hull: Double hull | Crew: Typically totals about 28 officers and ratings | Class: BP Trader class | Length: 278.8 metres | Beam: 42.6 metres | Draft: 11.35 metres | Deadweight: 75,059 tonnes | Propulsion: One steam turbine/single propeller | Top speed: 20.1 knots | Cargo type: Liquefied Natural Gas | Who: | Operator: BP Shipping Limited | Classification society: Lloyds Register | Where: | Flag: British | Port of registry: Douglas, Isle of Man | Operates: Worldwide | History: | Builder: Samsung Heavy Industries Company Limited (Korea) | Delivered: 01 July 2003.

urbanTick: You are describing two distinct environments in terms of activity and focus. How would you describe the temporal (time) differences? The amount of time or the passage of time.
Nicholas Poltorak: Time at work feels constrained and passes quickly. A lot of time disappears during the day with distractions, interruptions and breaks in activity. The amount of time seems to be governed by the clock: being “on time” to meetings, by the frustration of delays
The time at home is short and seems to be dedicated to more natural rhythms: cleaning the house, preparing food, eating, drinking, washing and sleeping rather than the clock in any real sense.
Time sleeping seems at times very short at times long depending on levels of tiredness and levels of wakefulness.
Time spent at home even if spent cleaning and washing and doing basic rudimentary household chores often feels more fulfilling than time spent a work.
The trick to be contented is perhaps to treat work and home life as being part of one living time continuum and to treat all parts of the day in the same way (?)

urbanTick: In a rather global sense, how would you define time?
Nicholas Poltorak: Time for me is a framework within which things must and do happen.

urbanTick: The framework you mention presumably spans across tremendously different scales of time duration, from a life time to the blink of an eye. Can you think of or have you ever come across limitations of possible time experience?
Nicholas Poltorak: I am not sure I understand this one.
Do you mean that some experiences cannot be experienced within this time framework or that time cannot explain or define some experiences? Ie experiences of life, birth death?
See my answers below.

urbanTick: Are you using a specific definition of time for your work?
Nicholas Poltorak: Time in operations is very important in the sense that we are bound to it in delivering certain cargoes on time. On the other hand if we can delay decision making that has immense value. It allows the trading team to have more time to consider how the market is moving and reacting and the ability to make a better decision based on more known and certain information.

urbanTick: Are you referring to clock time in the sense of the tick of a second or is it a time unit based on related decisions? eg market, events, cost?
Nicholas Poltorak: It is not clock time as you say it is more market time, contract time, cost time.
Often decisions and activities may stretch over weeks, months and may perhaps only occupy small sections of individual working days. Therefore to categorise this time as being by the clock is not the best definition.

urbanTick: What exactly does timing mean for your job?
Nicholas Poltorak: Timing means performing tasks when they need to be performed to ensure safe and efficient delivery of natural gas but doing them late enough to allow traders and ship crew to have as much information available when the final decision is made.
Your work is focused on this event of the final decision, could this be described as the point where time stops?
The final decision means time can no longer amend that decision and therefore yes, time as a space where decisions can change and be made is dead for that particular activity set or decision.

urbanTick: What are the different methods you are using to work with time?
Nicholas Poltorak: I work in 3 main time zones and therefore organise my day according to when different offices are open in Asia, the US and Europe.
I also organise my day in terms of contractual deadlines, and concentrate on the following 90 days of the shipping schedule. I leave aside time in the afternoon to look at more structural issues or longer term issues or reviewing past activities.

urbanTick: What does it mean to work with time, can you describe the context and
support systems required?

Nicholas Poltorak: I have a scheduling tool which looks at shipping rotations and scenarios but it is not time sensitive. Therefore it has to be updated on a weekly basis to reflect what can be daily changes. I deal with time also on a daily basis by the fact that the global schedule has to be updated on a daily sometimes hourly basis to reflect latest views of ship positions and next loads and discharges.

urbanTick: Does time change the way you do your job, e.g occurring events?
Nicholas Poltorak: Events in time do affect the type of work I do and how intensely I have to work.

urbanTick: Is there a backup system if the timing fails?
Nicholas Poltorak: I would have to manually log the position of ships and use my knowledge of shipping distances and times to plot out future schedules.

Image taken from bp.com / Click the image for current location of the vessel.
Type: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker | Hull: Double hull | Crew: Typically totals about 28 officers and ratings | Class: BP Trader class | Length: 278.8 metres | Beam: 42.6 metres | Draft: 11.35 metres | Deadweight: 75,074 tonnes | Propulsion: Single steam turbine/single propeller | Top speed: 20.1 knots | Cargo type: Liquefied Natural Gas | Who: | Operator: BP Shipping Limited | Classification society: Lloyds Register | Where: | Flag: British | Port of registry: Douglas, Isle of Man | Operates: Worldwide | History: | Builder: Samsung Heavy Industries Company Limited (Korea) | Delivered: 13 November 2002.

urbanTick: You are working across different time zones on different continents. Does a global time exist?
Nicholas Poltorak: Yes it is a time when things happen and have impacts on the world. For example if a volcano explodes in Iceland this has an affect on air traffic in a certain area and moment in time.
This is a local event and local time bound event. Global time comes into play in a more subtle way. The impact of the Icelandic volcano also has repercussions all over the world to varying degrees and at different moments. Nevertheless it had a global impact and this event is therefore set within a global time frame.
It is a time not based on a particular time zone but on the impacts and echoes of events around the world. These echoes are as real as the louder sounds made by the event in a more local context. Global time for me is a cacophony of louder or softer voices passing through space which can be heard globally in every moment.

urbanTick: Do you think different times exists, take place or could be constructed?
Nicholas Poltorak: I think that we can and perhaps should consider different constructs of time. What time does and does not do. Time can be a passive or an active agent.

urbanTick: Referring back to the framework of time have there been events in your life that have changed or influenced your time construct?
Nicholas Poltorak: The experience of Thomas’ birth has taught me to value the moment in time as well as time passing. I can see Thomas grow and learn each day and also understand that my own life involves constant growth and learning. I come to value the free time I have with Thomas greatly because it allows me to deepen my relationship with him and at the same time participate in and witness the miracle of a growing human being at such an early stage.
In a rather more sad case, the death of my father has taught me that you cannot hold onto time that has passed and that memories are such fragile containers of past experience.
It saddens me to know that a man’s existence is often summarised in a few short stories or moments of their long and interesting life story. Emotions are perhaps what link us to people rather than time and it is perhaps that emotion of love, attachment or closeness that unites us all outside of time. In other words, I love my father now as much as I did when he was alive and the passing does not diminish or reduce that love or attachment nor does it necessarily deepen it as I have no new experiences with him to deepen my understanding of him.
In summary the elemental experiences of life, love, loss are perhaps those which are less time bound that any others and perhaps the most important emotions. The ones that define us as human beings.

urbanTick: What are the differences in time for you and the crew of the ship?
Nicholas Poltorak: Time for me is bound by a regular daily routine centred on BST or GMT. For the ships they work to ship time and slowly adjust their clocks as they pass different time zones.
The crews also work on certain tasks throughout the day and night and have to work constantly during loading and discharge operations.
In a certain sense office bound staff level of work is different as we have a constant working day with weekend and holidays
For the crew they work full time every day at sea for 6 months and then have 6 months off.


In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

Read More

The urban and the sound are very much one and the same. Noises and tweets, squeaks and bangs, whispers and rattle are constantly present and play an important part in the shaping of the environment. consciously or unconsciously we are attracted or repulsed by certain sounds in specific configurations. But how is it interlinked with time and space, how does it tie in with time and certainly space, the much talked focus in the urban discussion.

In this interview we want to discuss these questions with Salomé Voegelin, an artist and writer who is concerned with the practice and philosophy of sound. Her work has been shown in the UK and Mainland Europe. Most recently her work “Barry Echo” has been included in Playing with Words, the Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, Cathy Lane ed., UK, CRiSAP and RGAP, Cornerhouse Publication, 2008. In 2007 she was commissioned to produce an urban pod-cast for RADAR in Loughborough, UK, and to realise, in collaboration with artist and writer David Mollin, a site-specific work for the Bregenz Kunstverein, Magazin 4, Austria. She is the curator of Clickanywhere, an online sound exhibition featuring sound work that focuses on the voice, http://clickanywhere.crisap.org/. Her published writing includes ‘Sonic Memory Material as “Pathetic Trigger” ‘ in Organised Sound international peer-reviewed journal, Cambridge University Press April 2006, and ‘Völlig Losgelöst’, a chapter in Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment, Angus Carlyle ed., published by Double Entendre in 2007. And a chapter on long duration on the radio for the book ‘Nachtschichten’, Jörg Köppl ed., edition Fink 2008.

Her book Listening to Noise and Silence: Toward a Philosophy of Sound Art
was published by Continuum Press in May 2010.

Since we are talking sound, we wana make use of sound and ditch the predominately visual approach, so turn the volume up and/or put on the headphones.


urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Salomé Voegelin: Of course I think it is impolite not to be on time, but I have become rather used to everybody always being late since living in England. However, I have been reminded of the importance of being on time by my son’s Kindergarten teacher, who, to stem off the slow trickle of late pupils every morning, keeps on telling the parents that if we want our children to learn to appreciate being on time we need to bring them to school on time.

urbanTick: We are discussing here three key words with very strong and evocative characters. They can be arranged in sort of a definition triangle, with each being used to describe the next one, let’s try this. What’s the sound of time and what’s the sound of space?
Salomé Voegelin: I want to bring these two questions together, which in many ways also answers the next. In the tradition of Western Philosophy there is a great dialectical urge to keep things apart, to see them as conflictual, defined against rather than through each other. Which is by the way a very visual “deducticism” in the sense that the meaning and status of the one is produced by deducing it from that of the other, rather than through the experience of itself. And so time and space are understood to cancel each other out, negate each other or use each other to the end of their own realization; and they are defined by their purpose rather than their experience. It is the function of the space by which I measure it rather than its experiential time, and it is the purpose of the time by which I read it rather than the experience of its space. Time and space thus exist in a purposeful conflict that seeks a resolution in a higher order synthesis, a better space, a better time, outlining a progressive understanding rather than a place to be. Thereby hinting at continual improvement that renders time and space vehicles only, to propel the subject, who passes through their a prior existence, onwards and upwards, towards always yet another such conflictual place.

Sound, a sonic sensibility, challenges the possibility of such a dialectical differentiation and the consequent imagination of their relationship as necessary progressivity. It sounds space in time and time in space and produces a place that is neither oppositional nor deductional. Instead it presents space and time as extensions of each other, where they exist in a critical equivalence: not the same but not combative either; an agonistic play that defines them both, but never for long in the same shape, inviting the experience of fixedfluidities and fluidfixities that are permanently differently now. Such time and space is a moving realm that changes in the continuous presence of perception. This realm is not functional however, but playful, and neither is it relative since it is generated through the listener’s experience where time and space find their particularity and contingent hold.

This proposition is based on the experience of sound as an invisible formless thing that is not there before its encounter, as is the assumption in a visually orientated philosophy, but is generated in my perception of it, always now.

urbanTick: You remove the dash between time-space in your book, can you explain this and how this relates to sound?
Salomé Voegelin: The dialectical conflict that is born from and leads to this progressive imagination of place is based on the idea of time and space as two autonomous entities (Gesamtheiten). It is, almost paradoxically, their exclusivity that allows us to pitch them malevolently against each other rather than focus on their playful interaction. I call both together through the notion of time-space, but remove the dash to call them timespace in order to avoid the possibility of exclusivity and immanent antagonism. In this way I aim to highlight the need to keep them together while also stressing their equal difference: They are elements of equal significance, they are neither the same nor opposed to each other but are generated through each other in the effort of perception.

urbanTick: Is there a past and a future in sound or is there only the here and now?
Salomé Voegelin: The term timespace allows not only for the imagination of a present place, as produced in the playful agonism between a present time and a present space, but also brings to perception the notion of an over-there and of another-time that are not opposed to or outside this moment of now but that constitute it in its extensionality. What I mean by this is that the now of a sonic timespace is durational. It is a thick slither of now, again a seeming paradox, but an imaginative possibility. Listening is extensive, it generates space in the temporality of its material. And it builds this temporal space not only from what we hear but also from what that audition produces in terms of a generative possibility. Sonic possibilities and memories trigger the present perception and also rush into this present moment to extend its space, which we prise open in the time of our listening to inhabit as place. This thick place of a present timespace allows us to inhabit the now, and at the same time it is our effort of perception, inhabiting that now, that produces the extensity of its place.

This extensity is of course not exclusive to the sonic perception, but a sonic sensibility has the ability to imagine it. In sound we inhabit our perception, we are always part of it; our sounds are as much part of the soundscape as those we perceive to be over-there. And it is this sensibility of simultaneity with one’s surroundings that enables the imagination of an inhabited, agonistically playful and thick now rather than of an exclusive, conflictual and functional now.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Lovely.

urbanTick: You are characterising the experience of sound as the here in sort of a thick slither of the present and as evocative. To what extend can we imagine the sound? Almost as in the secondary school physics example, where the excited teacher demonstrates with some fireworks how the light, the smoke, travels faster than the sound, the bang. From experience we’ll already be awaiting the sound as we see the little firecracker blowing up.
Salomé Voegelin: Sound is never an a priori, it is not there before its experience, but is generated in our audition and this audition is what extends its present moment to include all that could sound as well as what does. There is an anticipation to listening, which is particularly forceful when we are in silence; an almost breathless waiting for what might eventually sound. This anticipation is my agency of listening as a pull to generate the heard. Unscheduled radio is a good way to experience this: the formless invisibility of its sound means that our anticipation never leads to the fulfillment of one’s expectations but to the production of the heard, and this heard involves the imagination of ourselves at the moment of its production, inhabiting it. We do not imagine the sound but produce it, as imagined, in our auditory imagination.

urbanTick: In your book you mention Doreen Massey’s description of space and time as conventions, as matter of perception as well as believe. To what extend does this conception apply to sound.
Salomé Voegelin: Massey’s ideas of space and time not as dialectically opposed absolutes but as constituted in perception and therefore dependent on the inhabiting subject, has very crucially influenced my own thinking about time and space in sound. Her articulations are in many ways a critique of the theorizations of time-space compression in the networked age where fluidity is generally articulated as crisis and fixity seen as providing the certainty of place. She re-assesses these absolutes and makes any judgment dependent on the subject’s social and political narrative instead.

In sound too the reality, the timespace, of a situation is not absolute but depends on the perceiving subject. Sound does not provide us with representations of a priori situations, but forces us into its timespace place, to inhabit its material and generate it in this inhabiting simultaneity. There is then in sound too not one sensibility of time and space but a multiplicity of possibilities, which reflect back on the particularity of their perception rather than on a stable and absolute reality.

This is a very interesting starting point also to consider sound and a sonic sensibility in relation to art and the acoustic environment not only in terms of its aesthetic appreciation, but also in terms of a political and social consequence of a sonic subjectivity, a sonic community, etc.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Oblongs in Square Spaces.

urbanTick: Practically everything has a sound to it. Be it the clicking of the keyboard while typing a text, the whistle of the water boiler or the beep of the scanner at the supermarket till. Would it be possible to classify different sounds according to time?
Salomé Voegelin: Putting aside the notational control over time in conventional music production and its learned appreciation, for me the interest in considering the time of sonic occurrences does not lie in the duration of the sound but in the duration of its perception, and this recalls my answer to your last question, how it involves the aesthetic, social and political situation of the perceiving subject. In other words my interest lies not in classifying sounds as autonomous and abstract entities, but to engage in the time of their perception understood as the moment of their inhabited generation. These moments are not bound to clock time but generate our individual sense of it, as well as the sense of ourselves as sonic subjectivities inhabiting that formless time.

The discussion of this perceptual time and self in sound could grant us access to the reality of the world as a multilayered thing, illuminating “possible worlds”, whose spatiotemporal formation is formless by itself, dependent on the generative perception of its inhabitants, and mirroring their own formless possibility.

urbanTick: Is sound timeless?
Salomé Voegelin: It is not timeless but its time is full of space. It produces space from its time and invents the time of its space. Together they create the thick and complex slither of now that is our listened to environment and it is in listening, through an auditory imagination, that we appreciate the complexity and reciprocity of its time.

urbanTick: Do you think different times exist, take place or could be constructed?
Salomé Voegelin: The sense of now as a thick timespace invites the idea, mentioned already in response to your earlier question about the time of things that sound produces, of “possible worlds”. The suggestion that listening, the auditory perception, is not a receptive mode but a generative effort, which produces the now as a thickset thing that we construct and inhabit in our subjective particularity, might lead us to argue that there is not only the one, visual, world, which we pragmatically refer to as the real world, but that, there are many other, possible worlds that we thus generate. And, in extension that it is through sound, a sonic sensibility that we gain access to those other layers of reality, those possible and even impossible or at least improbable worlds. These other worlds do not cancel out or negate the “real” world, but extend and augment it. These worlds might or might not be indexically linked, thus no causal connection might exist, but inevitably, the imaginative perception of such possible worlds expands the way we experience the “real” world.

As a consequence of the idea that space and time are produced as timespace, and that this timespace is a thickset thing of present, past and future, of an over-there and of other-times, and the related idea that the world, experienced via a sonic sensibility produces possible worlds, we could imagine that equally there are different times, possible times and maybe even impossible times. They are a matter of perception, of invention of experience, but not less real, as it is our perception that generates them, and our subjectivity that guarantees them.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Skating.

urbanTick: These soundtimespaces of individual experience and timing, how can we make them sharable as important elements of interaction and social existence?
Salomé Voegelin: Sonic sensibility, in its insistence on contingency and experience rather than permanence and recognition questions the possibility and authenticity of the linguistic exchange. Instead of building on the certainty of language, a visual set of signs and symbols, it suggests a much more fragile and formless exchange. It suggests that communication is founded in principle on misunderstandings with exceptional moments of understanding, “moments of coincidence”, when our worlds overlap momentarily. This is not as frightful as it might sound. It simply means that we have to work harder to be understood and to stay in communication. That we cannot take communication for granted simply because we have the tool, language, to communicate, but that the actual moment of exchange needs my agency of speech, understood as the development of my agency of listening into language, to coincide with your willingness to share in that exchange. Sound elucidates the responsibility of listening and speaking as the basic condition of communication. A sonic exchange is based on the desire to share the heard rather than on a shared order or lexicon.

urbanTick: New media and technologies have questioned the definition of location with real time communication; the physical location of the body might no longer be the only indicator of the local. Did this change timing in sound, across different places?
Salomé Voegelin: Sound in many ways precedes and makes thinkable virtuality long before the technology enabled the production of digital places, virtual communication and multi-locationality of bodies and things. Sound’s invisibility and formlessness engenders an imagination that is not dependent on the reality of places and things but produces places and things and consequently invites us to invent our location in relation to those places and things. The body in sound is always the indicator of the local as it is its inhabiting that generates that local, however, what that body and what that local is, is a matter of imagination rather than of certainty in sound.

urbanTick: This year has seen a number of projects recording sounds to preserve them. On one hand this is part of the technology hype and we do it because we can, but on the other, is there a history of sounds?
Salomé Voegelin: I am fascinated by phonography and aural history, which, in terms of documenting, narrating and extending time and space are closely related, since both, in their own way, play with notions of the “real”. They both use sound to renegotiate reality, how it is constructed and told; what is real time, what is real space. And ultimately both invite us to generate our own sense of time and space.

Aural history of course has been around for a long time and listening to people describing their personal histories of the second world war, say, makes it apparent how very personal, individual and full of stories rather than realities and truths history, its times and places, is.

Phonography used as a strategy to garner material for composition of the patently composed, or to make us aware of the different facets of a visual reality, is very interesting in terms of how it problematises and plays with our ideas of a real space and a real time. Phonography is highly experiential. I am sure we can try to read a phonographic work as much as we read a photograph, but I doubt we would succeed to neatly summarise it. Rather phonography invites a constant re-telling of the scene recorded, a filling-in of the invisible space that is left by the microphone, constantly re-generating it with our own thick and expansive sense of time and space, producing our own timespace place from the heard.

urbanTick: Thinking of everyday practices and experiences, does sound tell the time?
Salomé Voegelin: I don’t think sound tells the time but it fills time, not in the sense of making it pass more pleasantly, functionally or usefully, but in the sense of making it thick with experiential stuff – a clump of sensation – senseable, in the sense of available to sensation, not however as a certain and shareable clock time but as a much more personal pulse by which we generate the world we inhabit at that timespace moment.

urbanTick: Time is often generally thought of as clock time, the continuous ticking sound of the counting of identical units. Is sound linear?
Salomé Voegelin: This personal pulse, which generates the timespace moment, which I mention in answer to your last question, is not linear at all. It draws the past and the future, the over-there, and the other-time and all sorts of things into its space not as a linear construct but as a fragmented constructing that fragments the listener too.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Hänsel und Gretel.


In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

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The Olympic Games are a global event of sport, writing history and making heroes by defining the athlete who performs best. In 2012 the games are being held in London and preparations are well under way. There is a lot of emphasis on the facilities and what can be seen at the moment is mainly building work on infrastructure and buildings. The building site over in Standford doesn’t really look yet like a beautiful venue as we are shown on the renderings, but some of the buildings develop a recognizable shape.

Image taken from London2012.com / The Olympic Park taking shape on 2010-04-01. An aerial view of the Olympic Park looking north-west, with the Aquatics Centre in the foreground. The Olympic Stadium with the completed lighting towers is in the background.

In fact the Games actually return to London, after they were held here in 1948. Behind the scenes there is a lot of other preparation work going on. Part of this is the heart of the Games, the time keeping. Implementing this complicated system of measuring, processing and reporting accurate times is a big thing and has a lot of ties to other elements of the event. At this stage this involves Architecture, e.g. buildings as well as infrastructure, later on technical settings as well as communications. This means that Olympic time keeping is always part of the preparations from very early on. Omega as part of the Swatch group is once more responsible for keeping accurate times across the whole of the Olympic Games in 2012. The company has a very long tradition in sports event time keeping and were the first company to be appointed for the job by the IOC at the Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games in 1932. They had also done the earlier London Games in 1948 and in this sense the coming event marks 80 years since their first job and will be their 25th instance to keep official Olympic times.

Hans Gubler, who is heading the implementation team of Swiss Timing, the company responsible for the running and installation of the time keeping system, speaks to urbanTick about the job of keeping accurate times and implementing the icon of timekeeping. Of course of interest will be the development of the technology since the implementation of the photo finish camera ‘ at the 1948 London Games, but also we want to discuss implications of time and working with time in a broader sense.


urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Hans Gubler: Yes and No. It depends largely in what context the “being on time” is. In my job being on time is very important.

urbanTick: Omega was the first time keeping company to take the official times at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1932. They have done the job ever since. Can you explain briefly the historic key elements?
Hans Gubler: In the 1930s timing was still done manually, meaning using stop watches. An early version photo finish camera already existed but was not approved by the sports federation in those days. Horse racing was the first sport where a photo finish device was put in place. With the arrival of the transistor in the 1940s things changed rapidly. Our company started to develop timing devices of which the key element was a high precision quartz. Electric photocells were used to start and stop timing at great precision. At the same time the photo finish technology was further developed and eventually homologated for Athletics and used for the first time at the London 1948 Summer Olympics. In the meantime conventional photo finish film technology has been taken over by computer technology. New technologies also include the introduction of transponders.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 – Swimming, Finished.

urbanTick: You are working for one of the biggest temporal events globally, can you describe your current workplace?
Hans Gubler: I work with a team of 12 people (employed by my company) working at the Games organising committee’s premises. Our activities comprise of planning our needs in the Olympic venues (cabling, space and power requirements, infrastructure for sports scoreboards) and testing results system software with all dependencies (Television, Integration with other systems).
Swiss Timing is a Timing, Scoring and Results services company within Swatch Group alongside with Omega, Longines, Swatch, Rado, Tissot and other watch brands. Watch brands such as Omega, Longines and Tissot use Swiss Timing’s services for marketing/branding at sports events. Events range from the Olympics and Paralympics to World Championships, World Cups and many more events.

urbanTick: The Olympic Games have a cycle of four years, what are the ‘cycles’ for your company, how much time do you need for the setup?
Hans Gubler: The setup takes about 3.5 years. Whereof we are 2.5 – 3 years on site prior to the Games. The operational teams would show up on the venues for the test events and finally, for the Games.

urbanTick: How many Olympic sites have you already worked on and where was it?
Hans Gubler: My first Olympic games were the Winter Games in Sarajevo 1984, then Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Torino 2006 and Beijing 2008. In Sydney I started to be on site long term (three years), whereas before my involvement was only just for the Games periods.

urbanTick: Looking back, how have you come to this position and what is your background?
Hans Gubler: I come from an electrical engineering background and have worked in this industry for the last twenty years. At the time I looked for a job in a technical environment connected to sports.

urbanTick: What are the differences between personal and work related time aspects?
Hans Gubler: Personal time management can often be adjusted according to how one feels. Not all time lines have to meet a certain deadline. Professionally there are two levels. The first is to meet the time lines of deliveries (submission of documents, building/installing of equipment, testing of software) to synchronise with other parties’ deliveries. The second is to be on time for a sports match or race and be precise in timing sports events (i.e. 100m dash race).

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 – Cycling Track, Start system.

urbanTick: In a rather global sense, how would you define time?
Hans Gubler: Time can be either described as space (amount of time) into which a quantity of work/activity is placed or the moment things are happening (from now to the end of race).

urbanTick: Are you using a specific definition of time you are using for your work?
Hans Gubler: Both of the above definitions. 1. Planning phase and 2. The actual event, measuring time of a sports performance.

urbanTick: How accurate can time measuring be?
Hans Gubler: Time accuracy can be indefinite however technical constraints and sports rules and regulations keep accuracy at bay. The highest resolution required in sports for the time being is 1/1000th of a second (i.e. Swimming), whereas Marathon over 42km only requires a resolution of 1 second.

urbanTick: Speaking of these completely different sports that the Olympics cover, how do they differ in terms of time keeping? Witch one is technically the most complicated to measure, witch one is the most beautiful?
Hans Gubler: Typically there are two categories namely timed sports and scored sports. Every sport has its own rules however some sports are very similar. Handball, Basketball, Football, Water polo for instance are scored sports where the match time is timed but the scores are relevant for the outcome. Swimming, Cycling and Athletics require precision timing for the ranking of the athletes. One of the most complicated sports is Modern Pentathlon where five disciplines are played in one day (Fencing, Swimming, Riding, Shooting and Running). It requires a lot of timing and scoring equipment and is intricate when it comes to networking all five sports for results compilation and live TV coverage.
Every sport has its beauty one way or another. My personal favourites to watch are Athletics and Tennis.

urbanTick: Do different conditions for time measuring exists. Say like weather conditions influence the performance? Does the wind direction influence the time?
Hans Gubler: Weather as such does not really influence time keeping (as long as the equipment is kept dry to function), however wind is a factor taken into account in Athletics where the sports rules stipulate a record time only to be recognised with wind from the back of < 2m/second. This rule applies to track races of up to 200m and long/triple jump. urbanTick: What are the different methods you are using to work with time?
Hans Gubler: Time is measured by using visual means (photo finish camera technology), infrared beams, wireless transponders, GPS technology

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 – Mountain Bike, Transponder.

urbanTick: Photo finishing and infrared are stationary technologies, GPS and wireless transponders can be mobile, are you tracking all the athletes and how accurate can this be?
Hans Gubler: GPS and wireless tanponders are mainly used for pisitionning of athletes during the race (intermediate times). The accuracy is no more than 1/10 of a second and is not recognised as the offical finish time.

urbanTick: Back in the Days of the 1932 Los Angeles Games hand-operated chronographs were used for timekeeping. What does it mean to work with time today, can you describe the context and support systems required?
Hans Gubler: The heart of time measurement is the high precision quartz used in custom made timing computers. Leading from there (depending on what sport and what precision is required), infrared beams, high resolution photo finish cameras, transponder systems or GPS systems are put in place.

urbanTick: Are you using the latest technology or even inventing them especially for the games or is the reliability of the system more important and you only implement well tested and proofed systems? What is the innovation you bring to the London 2012 Games?
Hans Gubler: New technology is developed not just for the Olympic Games but also for other high profile events such as World Championships and World Cups. Whether it would be for the Olympics or other events, new technology is tested thoroughly over periods of time in shadow (running alongside with existing and approved systems) before they are approved and used for events. Wireless systems are, in fact, not used in mission critical areas (i.e. data entries at Tennis, false start systems at Athletics etc.) since the risk of being interfered by other RF users is very high, especially in the Olympic Games.
New technology in London, as an example, is the timing of the mark roundings at Sailing using GPS.

urbanTick: Is there a backup system if the timing fails?
Hans Gubler: All crucial systems are equipped with back-up systems. The back-up system consists of a secondary system doing exactly the same as the primary system. A further contingency is the power supply back-up in form of an UPS (un-interrupted power supply).

urbanTick: Has there ever been an incident of hectic moments with failing systems at any of the Olympics you have worked for?
Hans Gubler: In Seoul 1988 the cartridge of the starting gun failed to go off properly in an Athletics race. The timing system was then immediately switched to the back up system. The race finished without a flaw.

Note – This is not the race mentioned above, just one of the races from Seoul in which Ben Johnson pitched a new world record over 100m.

urbanTick: The event relays on the time-measuring to determine the winners and this is turn is connected to a lot of investment and money in various areas. This presumably put a lot of pressure on the system and your job. Can you sleep at night?
Hans Gubler: The pressure is very high before and during the Games for both the operational and managing staff. The key element to meet and reduce risks is anticipation and proper preparation (thorough testing of software, hardware and procedures (exercising the switching to contingency systems)).

urbanTick: You are also responsible for the result tables and ranking system, how much time lies in between the event, the end of the event, and displaying it to the spectators on site and on TV? Is this immediate and solely determined by the technology or do you have to consult photos first and a judge takes a decision?
Hans Gubler: In the case of Athletics and Cycling the winner’s time is displayed immediately (sub-second) on scoreboards and TV. The official time for the winner and all other athletes is read from the photo finish pictures and transferred into the results system as they are read. This process is a matter of a few seconds, unless there is a tie where careful analysis of the picture is required. In Swimming the times are officially recorded by the touch pads at the end of the pool.

urbanTick: Do you think different times exists, take place or could be constructed?
Hans Gubler: I think time could take place at a different level perhaps combined with space. There could also be different time levels that are still unknown to us.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 – Athletics, Timing Room.

urbanTick: Would you say that there is something like a time legacy? In some sense one could argue that the times measured for the Olympics live on in the record books for generations of athletes to try and compete. What is the importance of the times in the context of the Olympics but also in general?
Hans Gubler: The legacy of times/records can be regarded as milestones for other athletes to live up to. They serve as comparison data to the media (press and TV/radio commentators). Times and records from the past also reflect the development of sports and increase in performance. A famous, if not the most famous, record was probably Bob Beamon’s 8.90m in long jump during the Mexico 1968 Olympics. The record was only broken by Mike Powell with the distance of 8.95m in 1991.

urbanTick: You have lived in a lot of different countries, following the Olympic circus. Can you describe differences in time perception, usage or keeping from your experience?
Hans Gubler: There is definitely a difference of time perception depending on peoples’ culture and mentality. A big difference I experienced between the Mediterranean (Athens) way of thinking (rather casual approach to managing time) versus the Chinese (Beijing) way of time approach (nothing is left unplanned, no surprises). The difficulty for us came with the former approach leaving little space for errors (planning, testing). Interestingly the former approach also meant more flexibility whereas the latter was much more rigid.


In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 – Athletics, Finish camera.

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In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, privat and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuos, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

3rdlifeKaidie is the latest incarnation of artist/curator/educator Kai Syng Tan as part of her PhD research at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Trained in London, Chicago and Tokyo, the diehard Singaporean posits herself as a traveller/tourist. Kai Syng’s interdisciplinary work has been shown in more than 40 cities (Guangzhou Triennale, Biennale of Sydney, ICA London). Kai Syng has won several grants and scholarships, residencies (NIFCA in Helsinki, Japan Foundation in Beppu), and awards (SFIFF merit award, Young Artist Award, Most Promising Young Artist Award). Kai is advisor in digital arts in panels in Singapore, and for 7 years, she was film lecturer and ran a Video Art degree programme. Her large-scale permanent artwork is on display in a central subway Station in Singapore.

Image by Kaidie / Time heals no wounds.

urbanTick: How does time pass in relation to your life of 1000 days?

3rdlifekaidie: Kaidie is alive from 12.12.2009 to the last day of the London Olympics, 09.09.2012. (Do note that the dates form a pseudo-pallindrome of sorts!) As we speak, Kaidie is already 150 days-old, and has only 850 days or 216,000 minutes left. Having a clear knowledge of one’s duration Kaidie’s existence all the more intense and augmented. It is in living a death sentence that one is compelled to question what one’s priorities in life is. It is an extremely positive and focused experience, as Kaidie lives every minute to the fullest. Being a runner only accentuates this. Running echoes the speed at which technology is changing today. This technological rush and running both make Kaidie run out of breath. That said, she is not a sprinter.

Image by Kaidie / Every time Kaidie runs at the Regents Fark, she takes a reality and time check at the Bee Tee Tower.

urbanTick: Your life is constrained to 1000 days. How does 1000 days feel? The limitation probably is even more obvious compared to something that lasts longer. What do you measure the passage of your life against?
You are talking about living life to the limit, experienceing it intense and running. Is there a slow and a fast time?

3rdlifekaidie: 1000 days is both tortuosly long and terribly short. What could be accomplished in 1000 days? For Kaidie, she has to find the Meaning of Life 3.0 (with)in/before time runs out. Is 1000 days long enough for that? Or is it too thinned out? 800 or 8000 days is still not feel sufficient for one to heal the wound of a dead memory; 1 day is 1 too many to go cold turkey on an addiction/obsession/obscure object of desire; every minute of every single day is a new discovery, a new beginning for a baby. Running 42km for 5 hours seems a little preposterous; ‘hanging out’ with a loved one for the same duration seems too short, as one always yearns (futilely) to ‘spend the rest of one’s life’ with an other. Kaidie rejects any notion of eternity and permanence (if there is one thing that is remotely ‘forever’, it is the notion of changeableness). Instead, Kaidie plunges into the moment of the now/here, and lives like all tommorow’s parties (and funerals) are right now.

As Kaidie traverses between the real and virtual worlds, she measures her time against the calender in real life. Taking the cue from one of her favourite performance artists Teh-Ching Hsieh and his 1-year performances, Kaidie cannot cut her hair for 1000 days. Well, most of her hair. It would be rather unbecoming to appear excessively Neanderthal, would it not.

Image by Kaidie / Kaidie’s Meaning of Life 3.0

urbanTick: Is it important to be on time? What is you strongest time experience?

3rdlifekaidie: Of course it is important to be on time – especially given that Kaidie has such a short lifespan of all of 1000 days only. Not to add that it is incredibly rude to keep someone else waiting – unless one intends to offend the other party, in which case it works rather well. One of Kaidie’s stronger time experiences so far was when she took part in the 10km charity run for the Friends of Medecins Sans Frontieres. She split up the workload with her Facebook friend, Kailives, and managed to complete the race in half her usual time. Another instance was when she was advised by her reader to ‘look for love’ in her Life 3.0. Being so short of time, she went on a speeddating session. However, she found nothing. Maybe such things need more time? Perhaps she will learn in time to come.

3 rounds painful 1st 4km, switched on only from KingsX by urbantick at Garmin Connect - Details
Image by Kaidie / 3 loops around Regent’s Fark

urbanTick: The clock time is everywhere on planet earth different, how would you describe the current time of the planet globally? In a rather global sense, how would you define time?

3rdlifekaidie: Time is process, journey, running, goes on, does not stop, goes on in spite of, change, memory, experience, imagination, fantasy, learning, not learning, wounds, healing, not healing, life goes on, in spite of.

urbanTick: I always presumed the virtual world to be a replication of the real world. You are spending a lot of time in the virtual world. Can you explain what the terms ‘space and ‘time’ mean in life 2.0?
Are you using a specific definition of time in each of the worlds, and if so how do you translate it?

3rdlifekaidie: Where Kaidie is, in Life 3.0. Life 3.0 is the tactic of the dérive in the ma (in between) of Life 1.0 and Life 2.0. It occurs in a dimension in which space and time are ‘mutually responsive’, in a ‘chaotic, mixed condition’.

Typical of cultures that view life as cyclical and temporal, ma appears to be imprecise according to Western paradigms, adhering to the exasperating ‘oriental’ logic of ‘contradiction’.[ii] Ma, which refers to ‘an “interval” between two (or more) spatial or temporal things and events,[iii] departs from the Cartesian expression of space-time as a ‘homogeneous and infinite continuum’. That ma encapsulates in its meaning the notions of both time and space can be seen in compound terms such as time (jikan), and space (kuukan). Instead of being ‘abstracted as a regulated, homogenous flow’, time was believed to exist ‘only in relation to movements or spaces’[iv] in Japan. Noh actor Komparu Kunio admits the ambiguity and power alike of the single term ma:

Because it includes three meanings, time, space, and space-time, the word ma at first seems vague, but it is the multiplicity of meanings and at the same time the conciseness of the single word that makes ma a unique conceptual term, one without parallel in other languages.[v]

Cyberspace, one of the components of Life 2.0 in the discussion, is itself an unstable and still-untamed site. The ‘nonspace of the mind’ [vi] is a site of ‘consensual hallucination’. [vii] It is also ‘the ether that lies inside and occupies the in-betweens of all the computers’[viii]. Superimposing the notion of dérive to that of ma as ‘space between’ [ix], ‘time between’[x] and space-time-between[xi] Life 1.0 and Life 2.0, Life 3.0 is the restless travelling in between space, travelling in between time, as well as travelling in between the space and time between space and time.

[i] Isozaki, Arata, and Ken Tadashi Oshima, Arata Isozaki (Phaidon Press, 2009), p. 157.
[ii]Daniel Charles, ‘Bringing The Ryoan-Ji To The Screen’, Taka Iimura homepage , accessed 21 November 2009.
[iii] Pilgrim, Richard B., ‘Intervals (“Ma”) in Space and Time: Foundations for a Religio-Aesthetic Paradigm in Japan.’ History of Religions 25, no. 3, February 1986, p. 255.
[iv] Isozaki and Oshima, 157.
[v] Isozaki and Oshima, p. 158
[vi] William Gibson, Neuromancer, new edition, Voyager, 1995.
[vii] Gibson.
[viii] Sardar Z. & Ravetz J.R., 1995. From Martin Dodge, ‘Cybergeography’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 28(1) 1-2, 2001 , accessed 4 January 2010.
[ix] Pilgrim, p. 255.
[x] Pilgrim, p. 255.
[xi] Isozaki and Oshima, p. 158

Image by Kaidie / Kaidie Running for her lives (after Muybridge)

urbanTick: At work you run, well you are running all the time, how do you relate to time while you run? Is there a backup system if the timing fails?

3rdlifekaidie: Rather than a static condition, Life 3.0 is a verb of action, of restless running in between Life 1.0 (physical reality) and Life 2.0 (realm of imagination, and Web 2.0). Kaidie runs, albeit slowly, as her race is a marathon of her life journey. Any marathon is a test of one’s physical as well as mental stamina. In any long-distance run, there are ups and downs. Kaidie gets her fair share of ‘runner’s highs’. When this happens, time (and space) are not of any consequence. However, when Kaidie hits the walls, or runs with blisters and aches, time slows down, or even comes to a standstill. In times like these, Kaidie ploughs through, runs through the pain and moves on.

Image by Kaidie / Permanence/transience/forevers/nows/what nexts

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