The linear passage of time is as frightening as it is inevitable, but to artist Sarah Sze, this is only a fragment of time’s complexity. For her exhibition Timekeeper, on view at The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Sze explores the emotional and psychological aspects of time through a site-specific installation that combines a not-so-functional work space, a cacophony of randomized projectors, and a series of data compiling computers.
The unlikely conglomeration of objects lies in the center of an enormous and dark exhibition room. The physical body of the work occupies a miniscule amount of space, but consists of a highly condensed fusion of chairs, lamps, computer wiring, and dozens of reflective surfaces bearing projected and fragmented clips. The clips contain anything from a drop of milk falling in water to the view outside an airplane in descent. Outside of the central installation are physically larger projections displayed on the room’s walls like celestial satellites orbiting a data-filled, sculptural planet.
Time’s intricacy manifests itself in the coordination, or rather, the purposeful lack of it behind the projections. Each clip is set to appear and float through the space for a minute and then suddenly disappear, while elsewhere in the exhibition other projections turn on at random.
“There are near infinite variations of Timekeeper. There’s so many clips that every time they appear, the intersections and juxtapositions of them are different. Even when I see the piece I’m surprised by the juxtapositions that are happening,” Sze reveals to The Creators Project. “I’m interested in that idea of having meaning between two moments, like in movies where you have so many edits and cuts between two frames. For this piece I was really trying to make a sort of ‘collision’ of images, just like the plethora of images we deal with all the time.”
Beyond the footage Sze recorded for the piece, the artist has also added an element of data compilation to Timekeeper. “I actually created websites that download information in real time. There is a world clock in the back of the piece with one location in every time zone, and three computers are constantly collecting images from each location, which are flashed at the same time they are collected,” Sze adds.
Timekeeper’s complex array of cycled visual information mimics our own intense relationship with image consumption, functioning as a mirror into the cerebral underpinnings of the contemporary individual. Just like our own tendency to tirelessly and mindlessly flip through content, the artist explains that “people in the exhibition room seem to move to the sculpture like moths to the flames. I think of it as a magnet; people are drawn to Timekeeper.”