“Halfway between Past and Future” — by Jordan Milev

The way we connect with time is the basis of our existence as beings. In that respect, I have tried to explore human perception of time and memories by way of a looped video of a swing, moving in unison with the seconds of the clock, accompanied by randomly and repetitively played spoken phrases. As such, the swing is essentially the visual representation of a pendulum.

It is also my fascination with the failure to experience the ever elusive present moment that has driven me to take on this project. In light of the above, I hope to have provided a visual metaphor of the fleeting present moment as contrasted with the two temporal places (Past and Future) our minds constantly inhabit: at any given moment we are thinking either about the future or the past.

The spoken phrases can be seen as auditory representations of an experience: when they are in the future (coming from the right channel), they can be a desire, a yearning, a dread; when transported into the past (left channel), they are transformed into a memory. And it is the present moment — represented visually by the beam of the swing — that defines the transformation between the two states of the experience. On the other hand, the memory can also travel to the future in the form of a particular perception of what we are about to encounter. From that perspective we are therefore shaped by our experiences, which become our memories, which, in turn, shape the way we look at and react to the world. It follows then that the fleeting moment between the two overwhelming temporal giants might just be the key to how we can change the kind of memory the future moment will turn into.

It is ironic that, on the whole, the swing can be seen as a symbol of freedom, of flying even. In my visualization it mainly signifies the opposite notion. It starts off as an audiovisual symbol of time: the swing ticks away audibly the passing seconds with the regularity of a pendulum and we as viewers become aware of the fleeing moment before our eyes. Time marches on according to the unrelenting rules of physics and it seems there is nothing we can do about it but watch it fly away. And yet, after a while of watching and listening, we feel stuck in a perpetual reliving of our past and imaginings for the future.

What makes this notion so acute is that the same phrases (uttered by different people) populate both temporal units, signifying the totality of time. Even though their random play implies the unpredictability of the temporal experience and life in general, their repetitiveness speaks of the rigid models of thinking we have and our tendency to cling tenaciously to certain thoughts.

So the pendulum-swing is locked in a perpetual motion within a loop and within the same visual frame. There is no real progression, no seeming moving forward. In that sense, therefore, the swing is both time flying away and a prison of our thoughts and feelings. There is no escape from this visual and auditory confinement unless we focus on the centre of the frame. It will help if we turn off the spoken words and listen to the ambient sounds instead. This is where the elusive present moment lives and our escape from the prison of the mind.

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