PERCEPTION OF TIME
SEOUL TO PROVIDENCE
“Time is dying on the moon. I hear the minutes limping round and round. Forgive me this minute; the hours are creaking past these midnight bones.”
- Theodore Roethke in Straw for the Fire -
Time is inherently ambiguous, complicated, and often mysterious. In our modern society, however, time began to function increasingly as a form of pure information. For most of us, time is what gets measured in a clock and we divide our daily lives into every hour, minute, and a second. However, the essence of time remains incidental and phenomenal. Time is what we experience every day through movement of light and expansion of space.
“What then is time? … We measure times. But how can we measure what does not exist? The past is no longer, the future is not yet. And what of the present? The present has not died away … Thus when I measure time, I measure impressions, modifications of consciousness.”
- St. Augustine (17) -
To the Greeks, the idea of time was based on cyclic return, a notion of continuous progress. As St. Augustine has famously said in The Confessions, the core of the Greek idea of time was recurrence and therefore based on conscious recollection. This historical idea holds true through to the present day. Our body has a natural clock that measures the sleep-wake cycle based on exposure to sunlight. Light is the most important material for us to understand and experience durations. Our circadian rhythm biologically allows us to stay awake and get enough rest roughly every 24 hours, following the light and dark cycle of the sun. As the Greeks believed, we have a natural method to keep track of the passage of time using light as a cue.
Collage of mixed media
Foundation studies, DesignStudio, Fall 2016, Shawn Greenlee