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"Absolute Zero" "Living with Haixia" by Sha Qin "Cranky Little Xiaoji" by Liu Dao "Fallen XOs" by Liu Dao "City Growing out of City" by Roland Darjes "Bugs" by Liu Dao
"Waving" by Liu Dao "Loving" by Liu Dao "Gimp" by Liu Dao "Fluttering in Xishuangbanna" by Liu Dao "Voodoo Warm Up" by Liu Dao "Outlaws" by Liu Dao
"Sightseeing" by Liu Dao "Bird of the South" by Liu Dao "Cherry Blossom" by Liu Dao "Afternoon" by Liu Dao "Kinnara" by Liu Dao "Chai" by Liu Dao

Absolute 0:00

Absolute 0:00 is the final exhibition of an eight-month series exploring innate cognition processes and the carvings of extraneous influence upon the human mind, and how their endless feud erupts through the subconscious and into the artworks of island6's in-house art collective, Liu Dao. This particular exhibit focuses on mankind's willingness to invest emotion and thought into the questions surrounding the human perception of time.

In the same way the earliest forms of eyes were born in the Cambrian Explosion half a billion years ago as only simple proteins that could sense light, our sense of time is certain to be proven primitive compared to perceptions which will come from future neurological abilities, be they acquired through further evolution, or by contemporarily feasible physiological or technological adjustment to the human mind. Our moments of déjà vu where two distinct places -the past and the present- merge could be the first instances of a new mental capability in development that will allow us to experience the past, present and future in ways currently incomprehensible. These themes are especially relevant to the art of Liu Dao because of the group's use of time-lapse video, narrative LED work, motifs of change, odes to the eternal and always-evolving quest for contemporary artistic approaches that are simply new. Absolute 0:00 features the artists of Liu Dao at the island6 Arts Center as they consider the musings and breakthroughs of time's questioners such as St. Augustine of the 5th Century, and modern theoretical physicist Michio Kaku.

 

Background

Pierre-Simon Laplace derived from Newton's laws of absolute time [1] an idea that all causes and effects could be deduced from each other, as if watching falling dominoes, and that knowing the vector and positioning of all atoms would result in the concrete calculation of the future and a perfect picture of the past. Regardless of the principle being contradicted and essentially disproven by special relativity [2] , even many of those who agree with Laplace's notion think the computational skills required to find, label and list the coordinates of every piece of matter in the universe are far beyond mankind's capabilities…and are maybe wrong. Acclaimed theoretical physicist Michio Kaku writes in his 1998 book, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century and Beyond:

Since the 1950s, the power of our computers has advanced by a factor of roughly ten billion. In fact, because both computer power and DNA sequencing double roughly every two years, one can compute the rough time frame over which many scientific breakthroughs will take place…

Technology has taken the mammalian brain to a place where thoughts travel to other continents at the speed of light through telephones, satellites and Internet. In a new century where nanosensors inundate our consumer products, industrial landscapes and biochemical entities, and will only continue to serve greater and more advanced purposes beyond our imagination, and where computer systems have ever-growing powers of calculation, and where we've witnessed the advent of the earliest successful experimentations with the creation of synthetic life, the time machine many are hoping for could simply be an apparatus born from the amalgamation of these monumental developments.

"Scientists also expect the Internet will wire up the transfer of not just a few but even hundreds of genes," writes Kaku, about what he calls the "Third Phase" of computing, or "ubiquitous" computing, in which all computers in the world are connected to each other and, inversely to the ratio we have now, there will be one hundred computers for every person rather than the opposite.

In this same book, he refers to Nathaniel Hawthorne's perspective of electricity essentially uniting all of Earth's life into one great organism, an opinion the author doesn't exactly dispute. So what exactly is happening to this "vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence"?

In 1996, one could access about 70 million pages on the Internet. It is believed that by 2020 the Internet will access the sum total of the human experience on this planet, the collective knowledge and wisdom of the past 5,000 years of recorded history. [3] -Michio Kaku

A computer that big and organic could provide savant-like memory, calculation and prediction to facilitate the revelation of vast portions of energy flowing through spacetime as a whole, perhaps offering glimpses of eternity or even much more, thus destroying any sense or meaning of the words "the present" and ushering an apocalyptic arrival of an all-knowing, all-seeing nirvana-like mindset, where not only is a person liberated from the identity of himself, but also from the identity of the moment.

This brings the discussion from absolute time to relative time, and to Einstein and "the problem of the Now", an illogical concept that weighed down on him until his passing. Einstein and other physicists agreed that the existence of the "Now" has no mathematical explanation or written proof for even existing, and cannot be considered something separate from what we call the past or future. But no matter who we are, we cannot rid ourselves of the conviction of living within the moment we believe we are experiencing, except in the rarest and oddest of circumstances. No matter what the equations say, at any given moment we know how much time we have until the meeting starts, and we have lived for a known number of years, and no more or less.

But if the idea of being in the Now is so illusionary, perhaps there's a more simple way to experience eternity or something like it than to rework the synapses of the human mind using wildly modern technology as proposed above, and that would be to shed this "problem" cognitively. While the daily routine and schemata of every human being as well as probably all mammals are too oppressed by the innate tendency to concentrate on extensive survival and reproduction rituals from migrations and stalking prey to earning money and raising children, there is a place where almost anything is possible, even the suspension of one's predisposition to believe in and concentrate on the present. That place is in dreams.

The number of research participants needed to provide enough accounts of warped or morphing senses of time within dreams as to turn the study into a successful gathering of relevant information rather than a collection of the varied and cryptic would be impractical. But, an execution method that would bring an enormous boost of efficiency to the study of the sleeping man's perspective on time would be to investigate the extent to which a human can alter normal rules of time using one of psychology's most interesting phenomena: the lucid dream. [4] Today, there is a growing number of people actively exercising their minds and modifying their wakeful behavioral patterns in order to maximize the probability and consistency of finding themselves lucid dreaming on any night. [A common training technique is to leave reminders for yourself throughout the day to ask yourself if you are dreaming. The desired result is that it becomes enough of a habit that the action repeats itself in your dreams and puts you in a position where the answer would be yes.] Few would deny that the most strange and downright impossible instances could become possible and perfectly normal when one is in the thick of a deep sleep and a vivid dream. Founder and director of island6 Arts Center Thomas Charvériat has done extensive research on the consciousness and has curated and contributed works to many exhibitions on the theme. He writes

"Those who find themselves in a lucid dream can choose to walk, run or fly. By doing such a thing they are also able to determine the time span for these activities, as they can control how long it takes to get from one "place" to the next. Through neurons, thought travels at the speed of light, so dreams can occur in this timeframe also. A lucid dreamer could experience the sensation of living in an endless imaginative vacation while their ‘real' body only ages a few seconds. Lucid dreamers can bend time to a state close to infinite time, or can even break it into a quasi-frozen eternity." -Thomas Charvériat

Those who can master their own experiences in a lucid dream may have the opportunity to literally craft a moment of eternal length within their head. (There is a potential to make, prove and disprove so many hypotheses using fully mastered lucid dreams that it may well become a field of science all on its own. Considering Liu Dao concentrates on identifying urges and influences from the subconscious in their artwork, the artists are particularly excited about the idea of simultaneously living in the wakeful and sleeping states -in the conscious state and subconscious state- if at all achievable for them. A very interesting question comes from the discussion of these dual existences, and that is, how effected or aware is the subconscious of time at all?)

But as we continue living in the present, our mantra of the Theory of Evolution and history of the universe says that there were firsts. And which creature was it, a man, a bird, a fish that first felt time go by? And déjà vu, a state of mind where the commonly accepted sequence of events through time is suddenly and inexplicably cast aside, could be the first rays of the dawn of a new stage in development that has been coming gradually through all of our invisibly mutating generations from right back to the very beginning. But the arising and survival of a genetic trait does not make it superior to others or more complex, merely more appropriate. A constant state of déjà vu might just as well be something we've evolved from. Either way, déjà vu is proof that time's most consistent trait in our perception -its direction forward- is not unbreakable, and purely on that shared human experience we should entertain that its other perceived traits are also not to be taken as absolute truths. Perhaps in another of the eleven dimensions Michio Kaku and other theoretical physicists use in their mathematics, time is a solid, while all objects and matter in our dimension remain completely intangible.

It may also prove worthwhile to put our system of quantifying time through some more instinctive upheaval. If you were to live to fifty years old, you would have consciously or unknowingly been the bearer of stimuli for a significant portion of around eighteen thousand days. But in the single second of time it takes you to read this clause, the global human population experiences more than two hundred years worth of time as a whole. If there is a central receiver of our thoughts that no one can feel as an individual [does your hand feel your ankle's pain?],