Looking for art about time.
January 8, 2016 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm fascinated by the subject of time and would like to explore literature, poetry, music and film that uses it as a central theme, but not necessarily in any overt way. As a point of reference, the Bukowski piece "Nirvana", which I find very moving. Help me find more time-related art.
posted by davebush to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

big here long now Brian Eno
posted by effluvia at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2016

I'm reading Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Hard Times, and it makes me think about how my own perception of time is completely tied to how I am perceiving the 8 worldly dharmas at any one point or time.

"The irony is that we make up the eight worldly dharmas. We make them up in reaction to what happens to us in this world. They are nothing concrete in themselves. Even more strange is that we are not all that solid either. We have a concept of ourselves that we reconstruct moment by moment and reflexively try to protect. But this concept that we are protecting is questionable. It’s all “much ado about nothing”—like pushing and pulling a vanishing illusion."
posted by yueliang at 1:56 PM on January 8, 2016

What about sculpture? Arthur Ganson's Machine with Concrete
posted by theodolite at 1:56 PM on January 8, 2016

Marsen Jules - Oeillet En Delta

Found this one on the Spotify "Deep Sleep" playlist, which always helps expand my sense of time.
posted by yueliang at 1:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

the music never stopped, grateful dead - a composed time mindfuck exiting the bridge as a literal demonstration of ecstatic liberation
thrak - king crimson
donnie darko
posted by j_curiouser at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2016

Synecdoche New York (pay attention).
posted by dilaudid at 2:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you have the leisure, Anthony Powell's cycle A Dance to the Music of Time.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:04 PM on January 8, 2016

Best answer: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society - much of the album has to do with time, shifts in perspective, crumbling away of the old ways, physical artifacts of memory, loss of identity, and possibly England's entrenchment in tradition (and stagnation). It can be read many different ways, I think.

Bonus: it's very witty.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:29 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
posted by Lorin at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

'Time' - Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon)

a.k.a. The Song Chiefly Responsible For The Existence Of Morfil Ffyrnig's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' Tattoo.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 3:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson. The novel consists of a series of first person statements by a woman who believes herself the last surviving human - there is no temporal order - things are repeated - facts are incorrect. David Foster Wallace called it "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country." I don't think of myself as generally a fan of experimental fiction, but I loved this book.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. The novel consists of three parts, with a fascinating piece in the center called "Time Passes."

Lost Horizon by James Hilton, origin of the term "Shangra-La," a fictional utopian lamasery where the inhabitants age very, very slowly as long as they stay there.
posted by FencingGal at 3:09 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Time's Arrow, novel by Martin Amis.
The Time Traveler's Wife, novel by Audrey Niffenegger.
Memento, Christopher Nolan film.
posted by baseballpajamas at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2016

Best answer: Thief of Time and Night Watch - Terry Pratchett

Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters [Told in reverse chronological order]
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2016

Andy Goldsworthy and other landscape artists make art that's left out in nature to degrade over time as part of the piece.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2016

It's more overt but The Time Traveler's Wife dealt with asynchronous love and relationship development in a very thought-provoking way. (This same idea was treated much more lightly in Dr Who with the relationship between River Song and the Doctor.)

Less overt, Memorial to a Marriage.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:24 PM on January 8, 2016

The western film High Noon is so much about time that the film occurs in real time. Basically the action starts at 10:00 AM, and takes place over the two hours until Noon.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2016

Lots of the work of various minimalist composers (like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass, and especially any work involving tape loops) where they take short musical phrases and not only repeat them but change the relationships between the phrases over time, often slowly. So new melodic and rhythmic elements are created by the phrases overlapping and combining in different places, depending on their relationship to each other in time.

For example, Violin Phase by Reich.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2016

Jeniffer Egan's "A visit from the Goon Squad" fits this bill
posted by kbbbo at 5:18 PM on January 8, 2016

If you ever get a chance to see The Clock I hope you do.

It's an incredibly overt piece about time where the artist, Christian Marclay, put together a looping 24-hour film of movie clips that involve clocks.

Seeing all of it is on my bucket list.
posted by itesser at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Neal Stephenson's Anathem was the world-building sci-fi novel based on the author's interest in The Long Now foundation's 10,000 year clock.

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas explores its themes over the course of a great span of time.

Umberto Eco's Island of the Day Before takes place on a marooned boat straddling the International Date Line.
posted by carsonb at 5:32 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Memento may be too obvious.
posted by bendy at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2016

The structure of Ada, or Ardor by Nabakov evokes how time seems to move faster as we get older. A book within the book is called The Texture of Time. From NYT: Ada: An Erotic Masterpiece That Explores the Nature of Time.

And if you know Portguese, Oração ao Tempo - Caetano Veloso.
posted by Leontine at 9:41 PM on January 8, 2016

Zbigniew Rybszynski's masterpiece of animation, Tango.
posted by little eiffel at 11:44 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Try to find a print copy of Lapham's Quarterly's "Time" issue. You'll have hundreds of avenues to explore drawing from all of the arts. Many of the works listed above are excerpted there, and it is an amazing survey of the topic (as are all issues of Lapham's).

posted by ExpertWitness at 5:54 AM on January 9, 2016

William Kentridge's Refusal of Time is explicitly about time. He is a South African multimedia artist using a incredible palette of palimpsest text, video, symphony, sculpture, light, multimedia, acting etc.

The 'refusal' in the title is a rejection of chronology, but inherent in his work(s) is a rejection of the colonial and capitalist idea of duration and unified memory (like the Parisian Communards who took aim at clocks).

It's the most amazing immersive experience and worth many visits if you get the chance. YouTube gives you an invitational glance at least.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:50 PM on January 9, 2016

OK, I thought of another one, but this is a little further afield: The Flaming Lips' 8th album, Zaireeka.
posted by carsonb at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2016

Thomas Cole - "The Course of Empire"

A series of five 19th-century paintings showing the same location progressing over centuries from wilderness to mighty empire to ancient ruins, intended as an allegory for the future of the United States. I did a post on it a few years back, but a lot of the zoomable hi-res Flash links are broken; here are some updated ones:

1 - Savagery

2 - Arcadia

3 - Consummation

4 - Destruction

5 - Desolation
posted by Rhaomi at 8:17 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

William Basinski's The Disintegration Loops I-IV are a series of four long compositions in which an old tape loop is played over and over again. The tapes are so old that they are disintegrating, and the playback process speeds this decay along. Each loop is repeated until it is almost all silence because the majority of the tape is empty.
posted by q9f9A at 1:49 PM on January 10, 2016

James Tiptree, Jr.'s The Man Who Walked Home is beautiful, moving short story about a man thrown far out of his current time, spending millennia trying to get back home, one step at a time.
posted by Bron at 10:04 AM on January 11, 2016

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