I know it sounds like a sardonic play on words, but I am not kidding. The first time I saw such a thing was at the Cass Technical High School in Detroit in the 1980′s. I found it in a “petrified” classroom. Imagine Kabakov’s ‘School No. 6′ in Texas, but this place was clearly real. In the sense that it was a simulacrum of itself, though it still had functions. You see, a hellish thunder had swept that town leaving its bearings all out of order. Its universe had slowly swapped positions to reveal another agency of thought and mechanics of time. Time working off its own muck. What they called ‘muddy time’. And unlike Kabakov’s mummy classroom, this place didn’t exist to show itself as art. Instead, it classified itself as a realist venture under the conditions of true realist art. Thinking and existing art. And everything I saw there was strangely usurped by its own seemingly well-organized logic.
There was one object in that classroom that frequently caught my attention. It would stand there and blatantly stare at me for literally hours. Like an oozing, discharging creature who was sluggish-like. Its parts didn’t exactly tick you could say. And it kept its matters at heart somewhere close to four o’clock. But from what I could tell, it waged the war of time at all times. And its hour, minute, and second hands began to share lives with every hour, minute, and second. I’d gaze at it imagining how Dali would have re-conceived his “Persistence of Memory” had he seen it. Certainly, he’d get his rocks off seeing this freshly birthed piece of Camembert cheese melting in the sun. If we were to name this creature, it’d be classified somewhere between a clock and a sundial – a futurist apparatus made by the offspring of 12th century Mesopotamian scientist al-Jazari. Yet, its engineering reminded me of how gardened-manicured clocks behave more as sculptures than as clocks. While on paper “grass clocks” as they call them, should tick and follow time coherently, but in reality there is a nature-time dualism that doesn’t seem resolved in the making of oscillatory engineered devices underneath the earth’s soil. Clocks fueled by lemons or flies, on the other hand, always carried a clearer logic for me.
My question is what were to occur if the world could host massive bowl-shaped cavities where silt and gunk would produce energy for time? How would these apparatuses work? How would time change? Would the world be dopey and torpid? Rapid? Or on the contrary, would time and energy undergo an unearthly metamorphosis that could grant us another world close to an eighth climate? How could one interpret imagination in this state?
The following exhibition “A clock that runs on mud” is an attempt to unravel such a quandary in the form of theories, propositions, works and writings on the concept of ‘muddy time’. Your presence on July 15th is certainly welcome.
Thanks to André Pahl for his animation skills