Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • on the day before my son was born, I treated myself to a pedicure.

  • I was almost a week overdue, so I was extremely uncomfortable in my body and anxious about giving birth.

  • So I needed the pedicure to distract me from those feelings.

  • And I tried my hardest to enjoy the hot footbath and the massage chair, and I painted my toenails a bright ruby red.

  • And then I ended up going into labor the very next day.

  • And as those first few months of motherhood passed by, I let that red toenail polish slowly grow out, even though I could have easily taken it off with nail polish remover.

  • I didn't.

  • I saw it as a reminder that I once lived a very different life.

  • And every time I trimmed my nails, I would notice how much farther that red color was from my cuticles.

  • And on those days when I felt totally exhausted from taking care of a colicky newborn.

  • Ah, glimpse at my ugly, half grown out red toenails would make me feel really nostalgic for that previous life when I had time to go get pedicures.

  • But on most days, I would look at my toes and wonder because I could no longer even remember what that life was like.

  • I don't know exactly how long it took three months, maybe, but eventually there was barely a sliver of red on the tip of each toe, and I realized that when I clipped my nails this time I would clip that color off forever.

  • It felt like I was shutting my skin like a snake.

  • So for reasons I couldn't quite explain at the time, I saved those toenail clippings.

  • And then I stood on a piece of paper and I traced my feet, and I taped the toenail clippings to that drawing.

  • This piece of paper with toenails on it has become a strangely meaningful object to me.

  • Uh, I think it's because it's time made tangible.

  • It's a reminder that I will live many lives in my one lifetime.

  • I sometimes wonder if snakes ever looked back longingly at the skin they've just shed, and if they wish, they could carry it around with them for the rest of their lives, because that's essentially what I'm doing.

  • I've moved this piece of paper with toenails on it across the country with me twice It's weird, right?

  • But I have to admit it's not the first time that I've ever saved something a little strange.

  • One of my more serious long term boyfriends after college had a belly button that would somehow create the most enormous ball of lint over the course of a single day, and every night, as we were getting ready for bed, I would pick it out of his belly button and stare at it in amazement because I don't know about yours.

  • But my belly button does not make huge balls of went on a daily basis, and I would tease him for this, and he was always really embarrassed because it was admittedly a little gross.

  • But I started saving those balls of lint in a jar, and then eventually I drew a calendar on the wall, and I started pinning them to it.

  • I was always amazed by how each ball of lint was unique.

  • It was a product and symbol of that single day, but seriously, it was made of the clothes he was wearing that day and the way he moved his body through the world that day.

  • Each ball of lint was like a little belly button sized time capsule.

  • And in the end, it was It was to me, proof that that day existed, that we were here and that we were alive.

  • And around that time that I was collecting my lover's Linds.

  • I went to graduate school for sculpture, and ever since then I've realized that all the work I do as an artist is an attempt to understand the linear and finite nature of my own life within the context of a seemingly infinite universe.

  • I read a lot about time, as it's defined by physics and philosophy, but those theories and concepts always feel just beyond my intellectual grasp.

  • So I focused my attention on those little things that accumulate over time, like those balls of lint and also on the words we use to define and refer to time in our daily lives.

  • Simple words like now and then are my points of entry into otherwise complex ideas.

  • I've always loved the word now for how it can have very many different meanings, depending on the context in which you use it now can refer to write the second, which is already gone, or the time it'll take me to give this talk, which is halfway over or on a much larger scale now can refer to this century, and in a similar way, the word them has two different definitions.

  • It can refer to the past or the future.

  • This inflatable sculpture connects the words now and then to the same air source so they can't physically exist at the same time.

  • One word has to literally suck the air out of the other in order to bring itself into existence.

  • I love to give words and ideas physical, tangible forms because I think we might be able to understand an idea more fully if we can experience it physically.

  • If now was a rock, how much do you think it would weigh?

  • Would its weight be equal?

  • Thio all the Benz that came before it and all the pens that will come after I read a lot about time.

  • I read a lot of theories about time that say it's not actually linear, but that's just how we experience it.

  • But there's a theory called eternal ism that says there's a version of reality I can't perceive where the past, present and future all exist simultaneously.

  • and I can't really fathom that.

  • So I make sculptures like this as a way of wrapping my head around that idea and understanding what it would look like.

  • I went to a store and I bought a clock, and then I altered it so that it has 12 functioning our hands and those hands rotate slowly around the face of the clock like the spokes on a bicycle wheel, so that it's always all the time.

  • I like to think about how everything in the universe is in motion.

  • Some things are moving so slowly that their motion is imperceptible and they appear static.

  • While other things were moving so quickly they become a blur, which is hard to perceive for a different reason.

  • Nothing exists separate from time, but sometimes that gap, that gap between what I can experience in my physical reality on what I know from science to be true feels like a gigantic divide.

  • So I've always loved the song lyrics by the band, the flaming lips that say the sun doesn't go down.

  • It's just a delusion caused by the world spinning round.

  • I love them so much, in fact, that I made them into a spinning neon sign.

  • I think it's such a good example of that gap between what we can perceive on what we know to be true.

  • Aside from people who still somehow believe the Earth is flat, the rest of us all know and agree.

  • It's round and it spins on its axis once a day, and it revolves around the sun every 365 days.

  • But that's not actually what we physically experience every day.

  • I see the sun rise above the horizon in the morning and set below it again in the evening.

  • And there are so many other things that I know from science to be true, but that I can't physically perceive or fathom.

  • Like the fact that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, 4.5 billion years.

  • There's no way my brain can fathom that amount of time, and I know that the earth is spinning and that there are tectonic plates that are shifting, but the ground doesn't feel like it's moving beneath my feet, and I can't see the sea levels rising or so many other effects of climate change.

  • But I know that they're happening most of the time.

  • Change is slow and imperceptible but measurable but fearing, fearing change or pretending that it isn't happening just because we can't perceive it is dangerous.

  • A few years before I went to graduate school for sculpture, I lived and worked in New York, and every morning on my way to work, I would buy a cup of coffee from the bodega on the ground floor of my office building.

  • And then I would take the elevator up to the 12th floor, where I would sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer all day.

  • And as you can probably tell, I kind of hated my job at the time.

  • So my day's started to feel a lot like those disposable cups of coffee I was buying and throwing away every morning.

  • So a few years later, I made this sculpture I called Coffee cup conveyor belt calendar because it marks that passage of time with that daily ritual.

  • My morning cup of coffee.

  • I made moulds of disposable coffee cups, and I cast them in porcelain to give them a sense of value, and I stack them all up on one side of the conveyor belts.

  • And every day a new cup was added to the conveyor belt, which was driven by a wind up clock so that it's ticking was audible, but its motion was actually imperceptible because it only moved about six inches per day.

  • But as the clock ticked and the days passed by the cup would small slowly move along the belt past Post it notes.

  • That said today, Tomorrow, the day after that, the day after that.

  • But after that, and by the time it reached the other end of the belt, it would fall off the end and smashed on the floor, where there was a post it note on the wall that said yesterday.

  • But I'm an optimist by nature, so I couldn't let that be where the story ended.

  • I never actually fired those disposable coffee cups in a kiln, so the idea was that once all of them were broken, I could gather up all of those broken pieces and put them into a bucket of water and reconstitute them into porcelain slip and then cast a new batch of cups so that the whole process could begin again.

  • The world we live in is always somewhere between being and becoming new stars, just like the one our planet is revolving around are being born everyday and at the same time, other stars are dying sudden, violent deaths in the form of supernovas, the same laws that have always applied to everything in the universe.

  • Living and non living are still in effect right now, and they apply to us as well.

  • How many years is it take for a person to like shed all their skin cells and then grow new skin cells on become essentially a different person?

  • Is it seven years?

  • How many years is it take for a mountain to grow?

  • And then how many years is a take for that same mountain to erode and fall into the sea?

  • I don't really feel like a mountain, but maybe I'm more like a mountain that I can perceive now is like a liquid.

  • It's impossible to hold, and the past is like a solid, like the rocks beneath our feet that have been formed over time by so many Knaus and the future is like a gas.

  • It's like the clouds in the sky that are always shape shifting and forcing us to use our imaginations.

  • Nothing lasts forever, but at the same time, every moment, every life, every breath is embedded quite literally in the ground that we stand upon and our fate is encoded in it.

  • So in a way, everything lasts forever.

  • Everything time is tangible.

  • It's in the light that takes eight minutes to travel across space from the sun to warm our skin.

  • And it's in the ground beneath our feet in the rocks, some of which in Texas formed over 1,001,000 years ago.

  • But it's also in the lint in our belly buttons and in the cups of coffee.

  • We drink on our way to work every morning in our daily lives.

  • It's so easy to think in short terms and to care and believe in on Lee what we can perceive right now.

  • But I think now more than ever, we need to think in longer terms, much longer terms and to see our own short lives in the context of the vastness of the universe.

  • So let's study and learn from the deep time of the past, which will always be present in the ground beneath our feet, and let's imagine and plan for a future that will elapse long after you and I are gone.

  • My son Zephyr is about to cern six next month.

  • His name means a warm west wind that brings the spring.

  • And my hope is that he will be able to live many lives in his one lifetime.

  • Thank you.

on the day before my son was born, I treated myself to a pedicure.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 lint perceive belly button belly day tangible

Making Time Tangible | Alicia Eggert | TEDxSMU

  • 0 0
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/07
Video vocabulary