Isn’t it remarkable how we all try to control time? We sell time, we buy it, we capture and deny it. We consume products that promise us we can have control over things that are so far out of our reach. Art happens to create this illusion of the ability to control time too. Art captures time and leaves us more satisfied with a certain kind of reality, because we feel like we have control, although this feeling of control is an overall illusion. We get lost inside the artwork, because we are afraid. Afraid of the passing, ever-changing force called time. Let’s take a movie for example.
Movies are little (audio)visual stories that capture a time frame. A film is nothing like real life because the filmmaker plays with flashbacks, flash forwards, time lapses and even cutting itself. Switching and jumping from one scene to another, in a time span that is unrealistic. An event that lasts an hour in real life, can be shortened to an event of only 10 minutes in the movie. Besides that, the consumer of the movie is able to control time; he is able to rewind, replay, or skip an entire scene. He can watch the movie whenever he likes, whenever he feels like it. And over and over again he is able to experience the atmosphere of the movie, the characters, the music, the mise-en-scene; he can immerse himself at any time he likes. We can’t do that with real-life events. We can’t go back to them, experience them all over again and keep them safe in our cabinet. We aren’t able to experience the same story twice, even though sometimes we are dying to. But the (making of a) movie captures time, plays with it and gives us a sense of control.
The same thing goes for photographs actually. We capture faces, landscapes, cities, animals, living and not-living entities because we want to keep them, we want to cherish and to memorise them, we want control. The picture may fade, but there will never be a change of subject. The girl or guy that is 18 in the picture, will always be 18 in the mind of the voyager. The sense of ‘youth’ will remain forever, even when the person has already passed. We take the picture in the way we want it. We capture reality through our own subjective perspective, through our own eyes (and lens). We hold on to that certain image, that was actually created in our own head. We keep it close, so we can look at it, over and over again, and experience a sense of timelessness.
A painting holds a different kind of story. On one hand, it has a lot in common with an artistic photograph, but on the other hand, it’s completely different. Paintings are far more personal, subjective and do not only manipulate time, but also places, faces, situations and show us the world from a different perspective, that is actually only fully seen by the creator of the work. The painting twists fate, truths and realities. It is creating a world on its own where time does not even exist. But although time is not there, the work is timeless, forever and present. The colours, the figures, the lines, the symbols, they are far beyond our dimensions.
Songs capture time too, but not only time, they capture emotions and certain feelings. The notes and chords hold a state of mind, a certain condition. Feelings can be translated and be saved, in the words and in the melody of the song. The song is something in itself now, a little self-contained entity. Whenever you listen or play the song again, there’s a huge chance you experience the same feelings or emotions the song was build from. So that means we can go back to those emotional or mental states, whenever we want to. We just press play and experience it all over again.
And also words, in songs or poems, create an eternity. The person or situation you write about, will remain forever. Forever in that way. Poetry keeps something or someone alive, even when they’re gone. So in that sense songs and writings manipulate and capture time, because you can get back to it, at any time you want. It’s black on white, it’s fragmented time.
And that’s the power and the nature of art. Making you forget about space and most importantly, about time. Art steals seconds, plays with eternity and gives you a feeling of forever-ness. And that’s what I love about movies, paintings, photographs, poetry, music and every other art form. It makes me dissolve, it makes me forget about the fact that I’m human. I become tranquil and I get lost inside an alternate reality, where there’s no separation between me and the artwork, there is just one experience, containing it all.