Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s (MIT Press)

Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s (MIT Press)

Pamela M. Lee

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0262622033

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the 1960s art fell out of time; both artists and critics lost their temporal bearings in response to what E. M. Cioran called "not being entitled to time." This anxiety and uneasiness about time, which Pamela Lee calls "chronophobia," cut across movements, media, and genres, and was figured in works ranging from kinetic sculptures to Andy Warhol films. Despite its pervasiveness, the subject of time and 1960s art has gone largely unexamined in historical accounts of the period. Chronophobia is the first critical attempt to define this obsession and analyze it in relation to art and technology.Lee discusses the chronophobia of art relative to the emergence of the Information Age in postwar culture. The accompanying rapid technological transformations, including the advent of computers and automation processes, produced for many an acute sense of historical unknowing; the seemingly accelerated pace of life began to outstrip any attempts to make sense of the present. Lee sees the attitude of 1960s art to time as a historical prelude to our current fixation on time and speed within digital culture. Reflecting upon the 1960s cultural anxiety about temporality, she argues, helps us historicize our current relation to technology and time.After an introductory framing of terms, Lee discusses such topics as "presentness" with repect to the interest in systems theory in 1960s art; kinetic sculpture and new forms of global media; the temporality of the body and the spatialization of the visual image in the paintings of Bridget Riley and the performance art of Carolee Schneemann; Robert Smithson's interest in seriality and futurity, considered in light of his reading of George Kubler's important work The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things and Norbert Wiener's discussion of cybernetics; and the endless belaboring of the present in sixties art, as seen in Warhol's Empire and the work of On Kawara.

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relevant forces shaping the technological world,” its bulletin states, the artist must have access to the people who are creating technology. Thus it was decided that E.A.T. act as a matching agency . . . through which an artist with a technical problem, or a technologically complicated and advanced project be in touch with an engineer or scientist who could collaborate with him. E.A.T. not only matches artists and engineers to work on collaborative projects but also works to secure industrial

technological rationality sets the mental and behaviorist patter for productive performance, and ‘power over nature’ has become practically identical with civilization.”37 Marcuse was at pains to qualify such developments, acknowledging the catastrophes of recent technological history: “the fact that the destruction of life (human and animal) has progressed with the progress of civilization, that cruelty and hatred and the scientific extermination of men have 26 27 INTRODUCTION EROS AND

here the tables have been completely turned: art was now the tool of technology. This would seem to support, on the one hand, the deeply technophobic belief of an ultimately autonomous technology, a kind of “technics out of control,” as Langdon Winner has importantly described it.54 On the other hand, it represents the most perverse literalization of the philosophical understanding of techne. If all art is a kind of technology, to follow the Aristotelian formulation of the term, at this

culture of technocracy. Marcuse cited Adorno on the issue: The spectre of man without memory . . . is more than an aspect of decline—it is necessarily linked with the principle of progress in bourgeois society. Economists and sociologists such as Werner Sombart and Max Weber correlated the principle of tradition to feudal, and that of rationality to bourgeois, forms of society. This means no less than that the advancing bourgeois society liquidates Memory, Time, Recollection, as irrational

correspondent for the BBC, contributed a regular column entitled “Science Today.” For his part Medalla took a special interest in Heisenberg: having drafted a “fan” letter to the physicist, he was able to secure an excerpt from Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science for publication in the bulletin.86 Even so, much of the art associated with the principle figures of Signals did not explicitly thematize technology or science as content. This was neither iconographic

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