♦ Last Seen at 16:31 ♦
This message knows we are in different places at the moment—that I’m here and you’re there. Its awareness is a matrix, one in which space, time and place are churned up and reconstructed. It knows the lag between my writing and you reading this, yet it appears to you with a sense of immediacy as if it were in RealTime. I imagine you are receiving these words as I type them. I address you in the knowledge that you will shortly be construed as many . . . at once specific and generic. Rendered a pronoun that transposes you from individual to dividual.
We’re living separate lives just now—on the move, but promising to be in the moment. Location services highlight the distance between you and I in Lyfe2.0, attempting to reconcile and reaffirm my activity with geographical location. I’ve been duped—by the faux sincerity of duplicitous friends—into believing I belong, that I have a connection, a presence in a specific moment in space and time. I have been cajoled away from feelings of isolation—prevented from feeling out of place, or distanced.
We are only as strong as our Wi-Fi signal; I can’t help but take the dropped calls and patchy connectivity as ominous. Despite the insistence of locational accuracy, we are digital nomads. Topsight is our cartography, tethered to time but not locale. We data roam around the globe, greasy fingertips clawing on cold hard plastic, clutching at now.
But here, now, is a heady mix of multiple timelines in cascading windows. Seemingly effortlessly they place me in several contexts all at once. The illusion of instantaneity screens the cloying lag of human labour, programming and software. Amidst the smokescreen I occupy multiple nows; present in all yet attentive to none. A harangued 24/7 self-enterprise in which performance is self-medicated. Always connected, ready to mobilise at anytime, anywhere, we grab at now with manicured hands and watch as it seeps through clenched fists.
I keep stroking the screen, refreshing, trying to coax the information out as I recalibrate, sync myself to my devices. Pulse to progress bar. The icon folds inwards on itself, and time collapses into information. We are treading time—now has already come to pass; our moment is gone. Timestamps have become markers, a means for asserting our presence and delineating our temporary territories, in fluid digital landscapes.
♦ ♦ ♦
Kirsty Hendry is an artist and curator based in Edinburgh and is currently co-director of EMBASSY Gallery. Recent projects include a contribution to Undercurrents Issue 4 and A Romance of Zero Dimensions (The Pipe Factory Glasgow) and Generator Printhouse (Generator Projects, Dundee).