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Sculptures

"Sculptures" (1997) is an interactive installation by Tamás Waliczky.

For our normal human perception time is a one-dimensional affair; an axis with the co-ordinates "past-present-future". In this one dimension humans are only able to travel forward. If we posit time as a fourth dimension, we can imagine a lasting spatial representation of movements in time: a rising hand or a jumping body would leave a lasting trace in this four-dimensional space, constructing a sculputural object that combines all the phase positions that the body passes through in the course of the movement. These sculptures, called 'time crystals', exist simultaneously alongside each other in space, and a virtual camera can observe them from any desired location. By travelling through the 'time crystals', the camera can re-produce the original movement, but from a diverse range of perspectives and at varying speeds.

Sculptures was originally made for Mesias Maiguashca's opera piece, called The Enemies, premiered at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1997. The story of the opera was based on a short story of J.L. Borges, called The Secret Miracle.

 

Long description

For our normal human perception, which is limited by the linearity of time and the continuity of space, time is a one-dimensional affair. We move along one axis which is defined by the co-ordinates of past-present-future, the present being the only layer of reality that we can actually perceive. And even in this single dimension we are able to travel in one direction only, namely forward.

If we posit time as a fourth dimension, we can imagine a lasting spatial representation of movements in time: a rising hand or a jumping body would leave a lasting trace in this four-dimensional space, constructing a sculptural object that combines all the phase positions that the body passes through in the course of the movement.

In the image sequences of Sculptures, Waliczky has attempted to represent such spatio-temporal structures. On the basis of specially recorded video sequences of fleeting everyday movements and gestures such as walking, jumping, waving, etc., Waliczky built three-dimensional sculptures in the computer. He calls them 'time crystals', as they preserve in frozen form brief moments in an individual's life. These crystals exist simultaneously alongside each other in space, and a virtual camera can observe them from any desired location. By travelling through the time crystals, the camera can re-produce the original movement from a diverse range of perspectives and at varying speeds.

Sculptures was originally made for Mesias Maiguashca's opera piece, called THE ENEMIES. The premiere of this piece was at 31 October 1997, in the media-theatre of the Zentrum für Kunst und Mediatechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany. The story of the opera was based on a short story of J. L. Borges, called "The Secret Miracle". As independent electronic installation, "Sculptures" was shown first time at Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, Leeds, England between 18 April and 20 May, 1998.

For us humans, who are limited in time and space, time is a one-dimensional affair. We can move only along one axis we define in co-ordinates of "past-present-future". (In this definition "present" is the origin of our co-ordinate system, "past" and "future" lie to its right and left respectively.) And, sadly enough, even in this single dimension we are able to travel in one direction only, namely forward.

But for God, who is eternal and in His dimensions infinite, time is perhaps a four-dimensional quantity; for God can see all three-dimensional existenses, simultaneously and at any point in time. Therefore, for God it is a simple matter to change at will our perception of time. From His perspective, temporal measures such as second, an hour, a year or even eternity are identical. I believe this may be a possible interpretation of the quotation from the Koran with wich Borges precedes his tale: 'And God made him die during the course of a hundred years; and then He revived him and said: "How long have you been here?" "A day or a part of a day," he replied.'

In the sequences of Sculptures I wanted to visually represent (with my modest visual means) the way our temporal structure differs from that of God. I think this question is the key issue of the piece. On the basis of fleeting everyday movements and gestures such as walking, jumping, waving, etc., I built in the computer three dimensional sculptures. I call them "time crystals", for they preserve in frozen form brief moments in an individual's life. These crystals exist simultaneously alongside each other in space, and a virtual camera (whose viewing angle is to some extent the lofty vantage point of God) can observe them from any desired location. By travelling through the time crystals, the camera can re-produce the original movement, but from a diverse range of perspectives and at varying speeds.

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