FEATURE: Elizabeth Green – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Colin Davidson

We caught up with artist Elizabeth Green ahead of her new work Repercussion showing as part of the Masters Degree show at Newcastle University on Friday 24th August. Here, she talks inspiration…

This time last year, halfway through my Masters course, I was thinking about a question posed by the American philosopher William James. In Principles of Psychology, he writes, ‘Let anyone try… to notice or attend to, the present moment of time. One of the most baffling experiences occurs. Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp… gone in the instant of becoming.’ This prompted questions of my own: How long is a moment? How long could I make a moment last? Could I make a piece of artwork that could hold on to the present?

While making my work, I tried to find answers to these questions. I used a camera to capture a live feed of a view from a window, then projected this view on to a wall next to the window and delayed the footage by eight seconds. This created two vantage points and two timelines; one real and one artificial. The viewer watched the present in the real window, then saw it repeated through the artificial window next to it, allowing them to experience the present moment and the past at the same time. The delay of eight seconds is at the edge of our short-term memory, so the audience was caught in a space between experiencing and remembering.

A year later, I am still thinking about the passage of time; in particular how I can play with its flow, to grasp the present in some way by manipulating our experience of duration. Duration is entirely subjective, separate from the measurement of time by clocks or watches. These instruments only measure time in relation to themselves, this mechanical interpretation of time is often very much at odds with our human experience of it: when being stuck in a queue seems to drag on for hours, but holidays feel like they are over in the blink of eye.

No one is sure exactly why we perceive time in the way that we do. My work can’t explain exactly what time is, if it even exists at all. I hope my work can at least draw attention to how, rather than why, time speeds up or slows down depending on our circumstances; to give people the chance to grasp the flow from past, present, to future more tightly, even if only for a moment.

Elizabeth Green’s Repercussion is part of the Masters Degree show at Newcastle University on Friday 24th August.

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