“Just as we place ourselves in relation to the universe by way of concentric rings of space – from home to neighborhood, to town, to district, to country, to continent to planet, to solar system, to galaxy – time too is made up of nested zones: today, last year, this decade, the last generation, next century, the ice age, the space-age future.”
What is the relationship between gossip and the history books? Or between a shopping list and the future of industry in the digital age? Or between a general election and eternity? It is difficult to pinpoint how our everyday dramas relate to the bigger story, but since humanity is indeed made up of humans, there must surely be a way of describing a particular time to include all those present.Just as we place ourselves in relation to the universe by way of concentric rings of space – from home to neighborhood, to town, to district, to country, to continent to planet, to solar system, to galaxy – time too is made up of nested zones: today, last year, this decade, the last generation, next century, the ice age, the space-age future.
The four participants Alfredo Cramerotti has invited to speak at I told you so, Cathy Haynes, Sally O’Reilly, Fay Nicolson and Tai Shani, address this relationship between near and far from diverse perspectives. Haynes explores the improbabilities of temporal cartography; O’Reilly demonstrates the alien nature of historical speeches; and Nicholson digs up un-archived legacies of art education.
But while these approaches are wildly different, there is a point at which they meet: each considers how we create or interpret documents which appear to straddle temporal strata, to speak to the future and past as well as the present.
Each speaker assembles, re-appropriates or re-enacts recorded information, and uses narrative as a vehicle to drive it toward new destinations. The tone might be media-savvy, literary or academic, but the result invariably shimmers between experience and fancy, the rational and the ridiculous, sentimentality and satire. The resulting hiccups in logic can reveal or re-arrange systems and structures that we might have forgotten are there. Social structures that condition our behaviour or cultural systems that influence our understanding of past, present and future become increasingly apparent as each speaker demonstrates how a diagram, public announcement or institution can be subjectively explored and how finite conclusions can be exploded once and for all.
Alfredo Cramerotti is a writer, curator and artist working across a variety of media such as TV, radio, publishing, internet, media festivals, photography, writing and exhibition curating. He directs Mostyn, Wales’ leading contemporary art centre, co-directs AGM Culture and CPS Chamber of Public Secrets, is PhD Researcher at the European Centre for Photography Research, University of Wales, Newport, and Editor of the Critical Photography book series by Intellect Books. His own publications include the book Aesthetic Journalism: How to inform without informing (2009) and Unmapping the City: Perspectives of Flatness (2010).