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ANDREA ZITTEL: A-Z TIME TRIALS
A-Z TIME TRIALS:
Free Running Rhythms and Patterns
(in an isolated human subject)
What would it be like to live without any source of imposed time? You could sleep whenever you felt tired and eat whenever you were hungry. How would your body react to such total freedom? Would it regulate itself in a sensible pattern? Or would it create extremes of behavior such as sleeping for a day straight, or reading a book from beginning to end? Would different peopleÕs patterns resemble one another, or would each personÕs own inner timetable be completely different than the standardized social routines?
Most of us believe that physical structures such as architecture, interior design, and urban layouts influence our perceptions and actions when we live within them. As a way to change or improve our lives we are constantly redesigning these structures, and we try to identify values such as freedom, security or productivity by creating an alchemy of design formulas. But what about the ephemeral and pervasive structure of time? Is it possible that the invention of the clock and its corresponding timetable regulates all of us into a unified mass more perfectly than any physical structure? What if we were to approach time as yet another plastic element to be sculpted into creative formats? What psychological, emotional, and social effects would result from this redesigned time?
The A-Z Time Trials are a series of experiments which I have designed to explore some of my own questions surrounding the invention of time, and which also relate to an ongoing investigation into values and ideals such as freedom, escape, and even luxury. All of these ideals at first seem tangible and easily defined, but then under closer examination contain the capacity to break down. Free Running Rhythms and Patterns was an experiment conducted from October 31 to November 6th 1999 in Berlin when I lived for one week without any access to ÒexternalÓ time. This was accomplished by blocking out all sources of natural light and sound, clocks, and any other time referents such as TV, radio, or time settings on my computer. To document the rhythms and patterns that emerged during this time, I set up a time-lapse video to record my week without time.
Free Running Rhythms and Patterns has been an experiment that IÕve wanted to carry out ever since I was eight years old and read in an Encyclopedia Britannica about a sleep study on human subjects who were placed in caves so that their sleep patterns could be observed. The human subjects were observed to slowly develop longer circadian cycles than the 24 hour solar cycle. This seemed particularly interesting if one were to try and determine whether the biological rhythm or the solar rhythm were more Ònatural.Ó For me this instilled a personal theory that there is no one overriding ÒrealityÓ or nature that everything else can be based on.
Beyond this hypothesis, and what sets my own ÒexperimentÓ apart from that of a scientific experiment, is that I wanted to know what it felt like to live Òwithout time.Ó None of the scientific time studies ever wrote about what the subjects of these studies thought, felt, or how they reacted. It seemed relevant to create a test for myself in order to observe my own experiences. It also seemed ironic that by staying at home and by using no equipment, special vehicles, or exotic locations, I could create this amazing adventure.
The Exhibition at Regen Projects consists of two parts. One is a 24 section drawing documenting the one hundred and sixty eight hours of activities during the Free Running Rhythms and Patterns experiment, the other is a model proposal for a future A-Z product--a new structure titled A-Z Timeless Chamber. As both a functional recreational habitat, and as a critique of the commodification of experience, an A-Z Timeless Chamber will push the idea of a stressless environment so far that it becomes a challenging adventure in itself.