Keeping time

When 2010 came around I was working in a consultancy in London and after four months I was already beginning to grow disillusioned with that world. Knowing that I had to change tracks without being clear where to, I spontaneously drew a spiral on the back of a notepad and put a line through it next to which I scribbled ‘3 years’. From that day I began to log events that had significance in my life within that spiral calendar and as the years went by the spiral was filled with little drawings, words and phrases.

old time mandala

While filling in my calendar I noticed that this way of looking at my life brought new perspectives and connections to the surface which I hadn’t seen before. Because the year is mapped as a circle I could see seasonal recurrences and also make wishes or envision what my world would be like once another circle had been completed. It was also a way of remembering certain things I wished for and discovering different threads and patterns in the events that happened during that time. Continue reading

Earthlines and Uncivilisation

It’s been a little while since we’ve posted on here. The quiet since the publication of Towards a New Time Culture is partly because we’ve needed a break from online life and partly because much of the conversation about time culture has been offline.


Earthlines brought an article about time culture in their May issue based on the short piece The otherness of time – A conversation with Jay Griffiths, part of which you can read below. And in a few weeks’ time we’ll be hosting a conversation about time culture at the Uncivilisation festival in Hampshire. The session is advertised as an exploration of the role of time in our lifeworlds and a mutual inquiry into practices that can help us recognise and live better within the many dimensions of time.

We hope to see you there – word has it that there are still a few tickets left (this will be the last of the Dark Mountain festivals and it is bound to be a fantastic weekend). Our session will be running on Saturday on the Parachute stage, so if you find yourself there come and join in the conversation.

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the Earthlines article, Reflections on Building a New Time Culture – in Conversation with Jay Griffiths. Continue reading

Towards a New Time Culture is now available

Dear friends and visitors

The pamphlet Towards a New Time Culture is now available – here on the web page (optioned in the menu as well), in PDF and soon in print as well.

We would like to thank everybody who contributed to the publication by donating to the translation. About half of the thesis has been translated and a preface and foreword has been added. Peter Holm-Jensen did a splendid job translating. Thank you! Here is a link to his website.

We will be printing a small number of the pamphlet as well. The price is 35 Kroner, 5 Euros or 4 Pounds – plus postage. We will print two times – 1st of April and 1st of May – and only the amount requested by you. If you are interested, write a mail to info (at) and we will print you a copy, send you an invoice and ship you a copy when printed.

Towards a new Time Culture is available as PDF – here in A4 and here in A5. The full danish version Tid, Kunst og Samfund – et bidrag til kompositionen af en ny tidskultur is still available here.

Thank you,   Jeppe and Morten

Read an abstract of the pamphlet here:

Towards a New Time Culture reflects a search for different ways of living our lives and structuring our societies in new (and old) ways. This search takes its starting point in time theory. It considers the notions of time in our high speed societies very problematic and suggests new ways of thinking about time – based on balance and context. Insights provided by art and art theory are used as theoretical foundations.

I clarify how humans unrelentingly, during modernity, have strived for a higher degree of time control. This is rooted in the belief that effciency and growth are unambiguously benefcial. With the emergence of the ecological crisis, this way of thought has revealed itself as outdated. Seven consequences of the temporal shift towards control and speed are identifed in our contemporary culture. In summary, they explicate how societies which valorise speed follows patterns that are decontextualised, short-term and therefore in danger of preventing a responsible approach to our common future. This time ‘abuse’ has to be countered with a time culture based on respect for the embedded temporality of both living processes and social institutions. Respecting such temporalities necessarily means developing sensibilities towards and understandings of these processes. Works of art can assist with this.

The pamphlet explores this theoretical perspective and sets the stage for implementing new time skills in our contemporary society.

The Arrow of Time

Staring into the blackness of deep space the light of ageing galaxies and celestial supergiants begins to fade. The very source of light in the universe is running dry and former blazing stellar fires are gradually turning to embers. Solar systems are flung out of orbit and galaxies consumed by black holes. The slow dimming of the last stars is a count down to an eternal night. The furnaces of life fizzle out as faint suggestions of all that went before in a cold and all encompassing darkness. Finally, the last remnants of matter disintegrate and disappear, leaving no clue that anything ever moved. Leaving no trace at all. Forever and ever.

This story of the End of Time is unique among myths about the end of the world in that it points towards a great and unalterable nothingness as the last thing to be. Contrary to cyclical mythologies it opens no door for rebirth or regeneration and unlike other linear mythologies it doesn’t offer an afterlife in some otherworld. As a cosmology it views existence and sentience as a fluke, a magnificent one, but one that shouldn’t really have happened considering the odds. As a narrative, it draws the Arrow of Time as the line between the Big Bang and the Heat Death of the Universe that holds all existence. Yet despite the simple narrative, it is the product of centuries of complex equations and thinking. Continue reading

Reading the newspaper

Information December 29-30 2012.

A few thoughts concerning two articles in todays ‘Information’, the left wing daily newspaper here in Denmark.

The first ones header translates ‘The new type of drug addict is an aggressive, chaotic and desperate one’. It is written by Ida Meyer and is available here (in danish). The article lays out how drug addicts in Vesterbro in Copenhagen, which is one of the the hard drug centers of the city, lately have changed their drug habits. Instead of heroin, the preferred hard drug has now become injected cocaine.

The article describes how the behavior of the addicts changes a lot along with the Continue reading

The singular and the multiple – A walk in the woods

Late december is usually a time when circles are broken, new threads appear, weave together or fall apart, in an alchemical process life spirals outward into a new form. It is also a time when we have a chance to put our heads together and talk. Nothing invigorates as real life dialogue in a moment of pause when the gaps have been filled by virtual correspondence for months on end. These last months have been exciting, busy, and complex. Time culture has both landed with us and been waiting in the dock for the next take off.

We went for a walk in the late afternoon through what to us feels like ancient woods. The air, the smell, the trails, have been with us as long as we can remember. We are home.

We talk about the seeming paradox of getting older: it seems as if we close off so many avenues as we get more certain of the direction we are heading, yet our perception sharpens and we see an unlimited number of possibilities within the known. We find different metaphors for this. Cuisine: in improvising cooking we hone in on the ingredients that we like and go well together but this apparent limitation allows us to continually refine those qualities which experience opens up. Music: when we prefer ‘classical’ or ‘jazz’ over ‘rock’ or ‘pop’ we find that any label of genre is incapable of holding the always more diverse forms we find within it. And so on. Continue reading

With John Berger in the Field

The field that you are standing before appears to have the same proportions as your own life.

- John Berger


A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me a small collection of essays by John Berger, which almost looks like a pamphlet, called Why Look at Animals. Besides this pamphlet and Ways of Seeing, I am not familiarised with the range of Berger’s work, but I welcome the invitation from Dougald Hine to co-host a session at Redrawing the Maps, a week long celebration of the work of Berger, as an opportunity to become so. Reading through some of his essays, it is clear that Berger is an astute thinker about temporalities, and it seems to me as if his writing is infused very much by the same kind of thinking that underpins Time culture. The following are a few thoughts inspired by these readings. The session, entitled “A Breakout from the Prison of Modern Time Is Possible”, will be taking place at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House, London, on Monday 5th, 6pm. Continue reading

Make space take time for living – reflections on traffic and habitation

by Morten Svenstrup

note: Danish version below

In a suburb of Århus, Denmarks second largest city, something noteworthy is going on these days. What is usually a common residential street with accompanying parked cars and traffic regulations, is completely transformed due to a simple maneuver. Two bars are put up in the middle of the road – each in the end of a approximately 100 meter road section. On the bars stickers are saying “road research”. The bars prevents the cars on the street to pass by – the heavier traffic is redirected to other streets. As a test going on for one weekend the road has become a car free zone. Only bicycles and pedestrians are allowed. Continue reading

The otherness of time – A conversation with Jay Griffiths

When I bumped into Jay Griffiths in between sessions at this years Dark Mountain Festival I got both excited and a bit nervous. Jay has been a big influence on the thinking that has gone into Time culture, her book “Pip Pip” opened up a lot of insights into how our experience of time is structured in modern industrial societies. What is more, her sense of “wild time” and her effort to bring the subversive, playful and carnivalesque to our experience and embodiment of time was also an inspiration in working with my personal understanding of timescapes. Slightly starstruck I plucked up the courage to say hello and ask if she was willing to speak to me a little about time. I was interested in talking more about her idea of wild time and its connections to how we can break away from the experience of lack of time, hurriedness and fragmentation in the networked society. With about fifteen minutes until the next session, we jumped into a conversation which covered wild time, progress, capitalism and ended with an unexpected turn. Continue reading

Building a new time culture

This conversation is the first of a series of reflections on what a time culture means and how we may move towards becoming more aware of time. Over the coming months we will develop these ideas – feel free to step into the conversation!

JDG: You have just finished your thesis on time, art and society in which you analyse three different artworks (compositions by Morten Feldman and Per Nørgård as well as a film by James Benning) in terms of their temporality. You go on to apply your time analysis to wider processes in society. What are the main proposals you develop in this project?

MS: There are two starting points. The first one is that art knows something about time that we humans can learn from. And the other one is that time is the heart of our current social and ecological crises because industrial time – and later network time – accelerate the way we experience time at a pace that organisms can’t keep up with. Then there are further questions around these two statements such as: how does time relate to art, how does time work in society, how can we even talk about time? Continue reading