The Cultural Programs division of the National Academy of Sciences will open the exhibition “Imagining Deep Time” on August 28th. The exhibition reflects current academic and public conversations about the significance of time scale to our thinking about the nature/culture relation. In recent critical, anthropological, and historical work on climate change and the concept of the Anthropocene, deep time has been a recurrent theme. In Timothy Clark’s terms, climate change confronts culture with a “derangement of scale” in which it is no longer clear at what spatial and temporal scales our actions are significant. In the present moment, for example, we are forced to adapt to living inside an altered carbon cycle the implications of which will play out over a period of time longer than recorded history.
Text from the CPNAS website:
Imagining Deep Time
August 28, 2014 – January 15, 2015
National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W.
“Geohistory is the immensely long and complex history of the earth, including the life on its surface (biohistory), as distinct from the extremely brief recent history that can be based on human records.” —Martin J.S. Rudwick, science historian
From a human perspective, mountain ranges seem unchanging and permanent; yet, in the context of geological time, such landscapes are merely fleeting. Their change occurs on a scale far beyond human experience. While we measure time in terms of years, days, and minutes, geological change occurs within the scale of deep time, of long cycles framing the gradual movement of evolutionary change.
The concept of deep time was introduced in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that American writer John McPhee coined the term “deep time” in his book Basin and Range. This exhibition, which contains 18 works by 15 artists, looks at the human implications of deep time through the lens of artists who bring together rational and intuitive thinking. Artists featured use a wide range of styles and media but share a common interest in the vast timescale. This exhibition explores the role of the artist in helping us imagine a concept outside the realm of human experience.
Artists featured are Chul Hyun Ahn, Alfredo Arreguin, Diane Burko, Alison Carey, Terry Falke, Arthur Ganson, Sharon Harper, the artistic team Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe, Rosalie Lang, David Maisel, the artistic team Semiconductor, Rachel Sussman, and Jonathon Wells.