Thinking Together is a discourse format dedicated to exploring the phenomenon of time in its socio-political, philosophical and artistic dimensions. It provides a space for transdisciplinary exchange, collective learning and unlearning. Freely accessible, the project is a contact zone between audiences, festival artists and international guests. Journalist and writer Amber Grünhäuser visits this year’s edition of the discourse format at MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues and gives an insight into her personal impressions on our blog.

Marc Couroux’s “Memories of My Temporal Illness” is an immersive and exploratory journey of “getting unstuck in time” through music, art and media. Couroux charts various temporal ailments in the form of playful excursions (and the occasional more jarring instances), from artists, musicians, ensembles and media outlets as well as Couroux himself, where time is intentionally and physically reorganized within a piece of music, performance or media. Being “unstuck” in time is to shed the shackles of clock time, the conventional linear progression of the passing of time and time structures, of keeping time and being in time with others, not to mention our grasp on the past, present and future. What occurs is a temporal liberation. Taken out of its usual context and constraints we see time reimagined and repurposed. Time becomes a variable element at play: malleable and manipulated.

The works presented show various manipulations (of temporal ailments) where time passes in unconventional ways: against time, with kairos (opportune time), time that back tracks and even turns back upon itself, time in camouflage, among others. We journey through varied, non-linear tempos, rhythms and structures. There are layered overlays in a discordant but pleasant co-existing. We witness “intangible scores”, “loops of speech”, sensations jumbled in a refusal of time as a stable given. Alternative methods of playing together as an ensemble are presented through desyncronization, perpetually falling behind, incursive approaches to structure, group energetics and relationships that expand, compress and deconstruct time. Time loops in möbiusoidal temporalities. Video action experiments manipulate time structures in feedback loops with the past, present and future estranged, intertwined and simultaneous. Deep learning systems and computational acceleration are used to exploit cognitive quirks.

In Chrono Economics Couroux talks of computational accelerations that impose new time structures on existing media to optimize monetary return. “I Love Lucy” (an American television sitcom from the 1950s) reruns were sped up to increase advertising. The idea of an acceleration of that shrill (which we don’t hear unfortunately) is perverse to imagine as too the fact that it goes unnoticed by regular audiences and the intention behind it. Well, time is money. Not to mention the experimental explorations of chronic disorders like background music, low-level noise and the “slow death”, which are bad for wellbeing and cognitive health.

We see that playing with time in music, art and media comes with a variety of intentions and background agendas attached. Each example is rich in conceptual narrative, the knowledge of which can help the listener/viewer orientate. These works challenge the listener/viewer to make sense of the jolt and disorientation (or not) of time reimagined. Thank you for this journey of temporal illness, so sweet and opaque.