The practically cognized present is no knife-edge, but a saddle-back, with a certain
breadth of its own on which we sit perched, and from which we look in two directions
into time. The unit of composition of our perception of time is a duration, with a bow
and a stern, as it were – a rearward- and a forward-looking end … We do not first feel
one end and then feel the other after it, and from the perception of the succession infer an
interval of time between, but we seem to feel the interval of time as a whole, with its two
ends embedded in it.
How do we experience the passage of time, an experience underpinning perceptions of motion and change? Can we perceive historical change through the perceptual experience of landscape? The term “specious present” refers to one theory regarding perceptual experience offered to explain how it is possible for humans to sense temporal extension, i.e. duration. Most famously elaborated by psychologist William James, this theory rejects the notion of perception as occurring in a single instant to instead argue that we perceive the world through a “temporally ordered window of events.” This installation of three “landscapes” in the Ruhr offers a perceptual experience of the Ruhr’s “specious present,” in which a passage of time, the recent past and the near future, are brought together and made palpable within the duration of the exhibition space.
Cynthia Brown is a PHD Candidate of Anthropology and Art of the Harvard Univeristy. She did a big Researche at the Ruhr Area and works currently in Berlin.
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