In an essay by novelist Alan Lightman, he describes one of Einstein’s dreams as “a place where time stands still: the place where we idealize life like a photograph,” capturing a perfect moment. Philosopher Michel Foucault describes, “A heterotopia or space of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror.” The irony is that in that heterotopia, where time stands still, there is no life. Lightman describes time traveling outward in rotating concentric circles, resting at the center. The things that are the closest to the center of time move at a glacial pace, picking up speed in greater diameters towards the outer rings. Present life only exists in the outer rings, where things are moving fast and uncontrollable.
In Twenty-Four Hour Tourist I examine this concept of time standing still in an autobiographical and nostalgic way. Through three-dimensional typography, I visualize the concentric rings of time, starting in 1977, the year I was born, and moving outward to the present day. In contrast to the typography, I juxtapose self-made childhood home videos to represent memories of a place where time stands still in my mind. The footage shows clips of a family vacation taken in Hawaii in 1992. The image of a surfer represents a place where time stands still. The surfer riding a wave is a metaphor for trying to capture and hold onto something that is ephemeral. Just as the video almost stops and fades to black, the viewer is quickly pulled back to the high speed pace of life that exists on the outer rings.
Originally published at http://jamesjgrady.com on June 16, 2012.