Dispatch 013

A close-up photograph of tree rings

Some knowledge lays itself down atom by atom, imperceptible to the human eye until eons have passed.

—Zoe Todd

Over the past few weeks, our sense of time has been surprisingly elastic. Have you noticed this, too? It expands and contracts based upon our emotions, upon the stop-start cadence of attending to work, upon Toronto weather that, frustratingly, won‘t correspond with the season. Rather than give in to disorientation, we have tried to think about—and even enjoy—these changes. Below are links to some reading on the subject, as well as to interesting art, design, and DIY projects that take advantage of or even encourage this awareness.

Since we last wrote, we have published another Live Magazine article online. Late last year, we asked about twenty graphic designers working in Toronto to describe the characteristics and evolution of the city’s design community. Read a compilation of their answers—on influences, important projects, our culture, changes—by clicking here.

NSYNC

Perhaps you want to orient your activities with something other than the clock. The New York Times can help you align with the solar system. Or use this chart of vegetable seasonality to align with what’s growing around and beneath you. Small Seasons is a website and Twitter bot that breaks up the year by natural phenomena. 

As Ross Zurowski, the Toronto-based designer and developer of Small Seasons, notes, “Like written language, the development of a standard calendar enabled stronger coordination and control for countries and societies. And also like written language, standard calendars introduced shared metaphors and patterns of thought.” What new shared metaphors can we create together?

CHANGING TIMES, CHANGING HABITS

A good question: why don’t we change a clock’s orientation to fit our body’s natural rhythms? Or use a twenty-four-hour clock, like the one artist Tauba Auerbach designed in 2013?

If you’re often looking at screens, check in on a line moving across a window once every year or get Twitter updates on the year’s progress. Or head in the opposite direction and build a very slow movie player

If you want to gain control over how you consume things on your phone, check out Kawara, a beautiful new app that helps you define how often you give something your attention. Fraidycat is a browser extension animated by a related idea.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME

· Once local and irregular, time-keeping became universal and linear in 311 BCE. History would never be the same.

· “Not all knowledge is concrete, clastic, or metamorphosed. Some of it lays itself down atom by atom. Imperceptible to the human eye until eons have passed.”

· “Trees and forests are repositories of time; to destroy them is to destroy an irreplaceable record of the Earth’s past. Over this past century of unprecedented deforestation, a tiny cadre of scientists has roamed the world’s remaining woodlands, searching for trees with long memories, trees that promise science a new window into antiquity.”

· “This is the central insight of geology. The world is old beyond comprehension, and our story on it is short. […] If we’re to endure as a civilization, or even as a species, for anything more than what might amount to a thin layer of odd rock in some windswept canyon of the far future, some humility is in order about our, thus far, infinitesimal part in the history of the planet.”

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