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Area Sneaks: Marie Jager

Marie Jager


Fig 1

Classical Europe

Time is linear. From the zero point, a period of growth defines what will later be seen as the past. Moving forward through the filter of the present, the person will reach a point where the future becomes better defined, in the middle of the journey, and find a mirror image of the past, a period of regression marked by an end point. After this vanishing point, there is either nothing, or an afterlife.

Fig 2


Time is cyclical. The zero point is a starting point that is not directly in contact with the present and opens up to an infinite past. It is also a mythological beginning or past that is sacred and separate from the individual. The person who is in the present is at the same time in the future, which is an open perspective to infinity.

Fig 3


Non-chronological time. The zero point of time as well as the ending of time is simultaneously with the person at any given moment of the present. Time does not really unfold as a traditional narrative; it exists rather as coexisting pockets (of sensibility?) that originate from the individual.

Time is on my side, yes it is…


The Druids had a feeling of awe in front of the natural movements of a tree.

In French, the word for a watch, ‘montre’, means ‘show’, and in English, ‘watch’ is ‘look’. It could have been called ‘time machine’ or something else. But the name refers to something to see, a spectacle.

Time was linked to a visual event in the same way that space became a visual phenomenon through classical perspective and depth of field. The visual event was a movement, a primitive rhythm made visible.


Time as a circle

The Danese perpetual calendar encapsulates all time through a very limited set of metal plates. The Chinese experience time as a loop, a 12-year period identified by animals eternally repeats itself, an open future.

Numbers, words, animals…Time is circular, like on a watch, you move back to the same point over and over again. Using a set of limited elements, time is a process of reorganization, it is a matter of determining the order of things, but there is a sense of permanence. Nothing lost, nothing gained and nothing transformed.


With Kant, time… becomes a straight line.

The first collection of Swatch models was introduced in 1983. Swatch, the contraction for ‘Second Watch,’ introduced the watch as something disposable. In the 80s some people wore 2 or 3 swatches at the same time before trashing and replacing them./p>

In some office calendars, each new day is a separate sheet of paper that you can tear and trash, a little bit like the / drawn on a prison wall that are then crossed. Time becomes a process of degeneration and destruction, a one-way street…

My wing is poised to beat
But I would gladly return home
Were I to stay to the end of days
I would still be this forlorn
SCHOLEM to BENJAMIN on his 29th birthday

A linear perspective, with Jesus as the Zero. A birth, then growth, then decay, then death.

Time as an objective progression in one direction was brought by the Classical European tradition. Deleuze credits Kant for inverting the relationship of time to movement, from time being slave to the movement of the planets to time determining this movement. The Jewish calendar is unique, because it is not based on any planet movement (sun, moon or Venus) like all the other calendars but on an autonomous event, the seven days to make the world according to the Bible.


When you do a project, or you write a text, you never really know how it will end up at the end. The Surrealists had the idea of an ‘objective chance’, new situations are created. This was Bergson’s intuition when he was trying to understand time as an open-ended system, a ‘becoming’ as opposed to a countdown.

Bergson explains that the invention of cinema was shaped by Newtonian physics: time as a succession of moments, t1 t2 t3 t4… created the idea of a film as a succession of photographs, the superposition of objective ‘present’ in a causal and deterministic chain.

The re-enchantment of the world

In Tourou et Bitti, Jean Rouch continues to film the drummers even though nothing happens in front of the camera. It is in the hope that the act of filming might produce the trance people had gathered for, in the hope ‘something’ will eventually happen because of the camera, that reality would be transformed by that presence. The cameraman as opposed to an invisible, objective observer.

Einstein, a rabbit in Chinese astrology, discovered that someone who is moving in space warps time and therefore creates a slower time than the one who is still. So a turtle or a tree are immersed in a time that is going terribly fast, hence maybe a long life expectancy to compensate for, whereas a second for a rabbit is like going through a whole year…


Un-chronological time

Revolutionary periods produce an eccentric remodeling of time. One of the first things the French Revolution did was to create a new calendar replacing catholic saints with fruits, trees, and the climate. The ban on religion it imposed produced a resurgence of mystical beliefs, similar to what happened in the late 19th century.

In The Purple Cloud, a novel written by M.P. Shiel in 1901, the introduction credits Mary Wilson as the author of the book. She has extraordinary powers in the field of trance and was able to go into the future, take notes and write the book. The powers of trance manifest themselves more commonly in space: someone in trance in Manchester telling you what is going on in London or Peking would not be uncommon. But to travel through time is a much more unique skill.

The Songhay also practiced a form of time travel. The Songhay practice possession, but instead of using masks as is common in Africa, the ancestors come alive through dance and music, embodied by a regular woman or man. The woman or man suddenly becomes possessed by the genius of thunder, of water… The apparition of the ancestors in the present helps resolve the problems of daily life.


The cutting of the world into time zone as if it was a watch makes the North Pole the center of this clock, the still point, where (when?) all the different times coexist. It is +5 hrs, -8 hrs and Greenwich time simultaneously. To be at the North Pole is to be where the time is free, still, where the daily rotation of the earth does not matter.

Non-historical time

Scandinavia is as different from the West as it is from China in terms of its intellectual and philosophical tradition. There is a coexistence of the past present future tenses in the Scandinavian culture. The present, birth and death coincide in every instant inside a person. It might explain the peculiar relationship to change or history (history is another form of time measurement and consists in studying the past) of these countries.

In Nordic mythology, an event may have several places in the timeline. Time is an elastic notion.