Split-Second Timing

A performance at DEAF00.

Nov 2000
14:00 to 18:00
location: Lantaren 1, Gouvernestraat 133

Split-Second Timing explores various ways of modelling the trajectory of techno-capitalist modernity, as it is exemplified by the accelerating subdivision of time. It retraces the decimal zoom into time, following the intertwining runaway curves of chronometric exactitude and informatic processing speeds, from the earliest mechanical clocks into fantastic micro-fragmentations of the second.

Split-Second Timing is envisaged as a multimedia (half-hour) presentation, combining read text with audio and video recordings. It is divided into three basic sections.

1. Flight from Babylon.

Within the massively predominant time-system of modern societies, the time-scale between the hour and the second is still ordered by the mysterious sexigesimal number system gestated by the Sumero-Babylonian civilizations. This system - incarnated in the visible pulsations of clocks and watches - divides the hour into 3600 seconds, in accordance with a modular alternation beween ten and six. Beyond this threshold, the semiotic of time is transmuted by a decimalizing explosion of technoscientific precision. The time of capitalist modernity is less a moment in history than a scale of duration, beginning with the split-second, and zooming.

2. Capitalist speed-explosion.

Techno-capitalist runaway - or cybernetic autostimulation - is modelled by various nonlinear, exponential, or explosive curves, of which the most widely familiar is that of the eighteen-month "doubling-period," proposed in Moore"s historical "law" of microprocessor development. In fact Moore"s Law only partially captures the contemporary speed-syndrome (measured in hertz = cycle/sec): a machinic intensification of time. Ever since the splitting of the second, chronometric exactitudes and rates of machinic activation have been interlinked within an explosive dynamic, one in which doubling periods are themselves compressing. Processes such as these pass through catastrophes.

3. Interface time-anamolies.

Near future neuroelectronic-synthesis encounters the problem of time-consistency. How to span the distance between the spiking-rate of an excited neuron (approx. 100Hz) and the (multi-gigahertz) pulsation rate of digital machines? True biomechanical fusion would require a radical mutation in the threshold of "human" time perception (currently lagging behind machine-acuity by about eight decimal places). Interface time-zooming becomes a technocultural destiny, a fatal voyage into time.

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