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Fascinated with Time



Time is constant. Time is relative.


Time is something we all "understand", but the more I think about time in different contexts, it's definition alludes me. Time is constant when you say "it takes 5 minutes to get there". Time helps us understand distance. Time also helps us understand context. "This book was written 50 years ago". The language, norms, and culture of that time was different than now. In each one of those instances, time can be used to accurately help us mark distance.


But time changes when we say "it takes 5 minutes to get there", but it actually takes you 15 minutes to get there because of an accident. Life must be considered before using time as a unit of measure. So during rush hour, you might say, "it takes 5 minutes to get there, but it will take 20 minutes due to traffic."


These are all things we are aware of, but many times we don't change our behavior even while knowing these things to be true. For example, when it takes 10 minutes to get to a meeting, a person might leave their house at 7:50pm to arrive at 8:00pm. But the reality is that they didn't budget time to find a parking spot, pay the parking meter, finding change to pay the meter, etc, etc. So they end up walking into the meeting at 8:10pm.


The person who is waiting for the other person to arrive might be irritated, or upset by having his/her time wasted.


My recent work on blueprints and clocks (this is the 3rd one I've painted in the past month), have really got me thinking a lot about time. Clocks help me think that time is something that is measured in seconds, minutes, hours. While the 32 year old salvaged blueprints help me think about how much life changes in decades years.


Using plastic helps me think about time in hundreds, and thousands of years. While working in ceramics helps me think about time in millions of years.


As an individual, I'm responsible for affecting people of the future in myriad ways whether I know it or not. That's mind blowing. In an average day, I count minutes so I can arrive at the art supply store 1 hour before close so I can buy the right paint brush to create some art. It gets put in a plastic bag which I bring home, and then I use that paint brush to create line work on a piece of porcelain that once fired can last for a thousand years, and take millions to decompose.


Time is very much about perspective, as it seems to me that using it as a unit of measure sort of misses the point. It has some value measuring distance, but its true value is in understanding the context that surrounds time at different moments, and from different vantage points.


I like experiencing time in this way because it helps me try to understand true value, which gives me the slightest chance of creating it. Without understanding what happens to something after it has lived its useful life is an old fashion way of making products. We are at the cusp of understanding as a society that the things we create linger. Their impacts felt by generations after.


It is this profound new assessment of time and value that will be the cornerstone of innovation we witness in the decades to come. And the innovation won't be just in products or business, but I think this lens of time will be applied to culture and society.


Things may look bleak now because of coronavirus, political & social unrest, wealth inequality, etc. but I see now very clearly that the world will change rapidly, and even more so as time progresses. This gives me optimism about humanity, which is so different than my perspective of it in the past. I used to believe humans were monsters. The way we waste and destroy the precious resources of this planet.


But I think we will experience something tremendous in our lifetimes. A revolution of "broken" systems and the ways in which we live. These systems were designed without a way to cope with an unfathomable future, and we used to live only for today. I think it will be really fascinating to see the solutions we develop for systemic social, political, economic, and environmental problems over time.


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