"I know very well what time is," writes Augustine in the Confessions, "until the moment you ask me, and then I do not know." This philosophical candor was much admired by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who advised that what we cannot speak of we must therefore remain silent. Time, in itself imperceptible, is rendered salient through a variety of intercessionary technologies, utilizing sand, shadow, water, or more complex kinetic devices, to make visible, or audible, its 'passage.' Time can be measured through the body in any number of ways: the physical aging of our bodies, our kinetic movements, the performance of our everyday actions, and our changing outward personal style or disposition. Aesthetic forms, scientific and literary productions 'unfold' in time, moving toward an inexorable conclusion, end, closure or renewal. Phenomena persist, endure, and dissipate. In our contemporaneity time-based media are ubiquitous, and the intimacy between, for example, a naturally produced utterance and its technical reproducibility has become coextensive.
In this seminar we will begin with an inquiry into the nature of time, beginning with the pre-Socratics, carrying through to Kant, Heidegger, Agamben and Stiegler; at the same time we will also examine the notion of 'technical-being' or techné, contrasted with biological, living being, bios, zöon. But the primary orientation of this seminar will address the medial or technical and aesthetic register of time-based processes and devices. From the camera obscura to telephony, from the incunabula of the proto-cinema to current digital globalizations, we will explore both the materialities and the theories of time, technics and media, and the complexities they entail.