PSi Lexicon

projective time

projective time
projecterende tijd

Philosopher and contemporary art theoretician Bojana Kunst wrote The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making that is about the tendency in the art world to project time into the future. Projecting time into the future means that an event is temporally suspended and that a working process leads up to this event in the future. According to Kunst, projective time is an important notion that has to do with the temporal mode or attitude of working and living in the world of theatre and performance art that also brings a specific perspective on the kind of labor and dynamics of contemporary production. She explains that artists always work for something to come, but without moving. As there will always be a project in the future, the artists stay in a place where they are always anticipating the future. You can compare this with the effect of running on a treadmill. This projective time creates a specific mode of working and living: everybody is the same and we work fast, without depth, to reach our deadlines. This race to reach the projective horizon is a result of capitalism. We have to be productive, consequently the ideal worker is the one who is flexible, nomadic and engages in various small projects for short periods. Being flexible and nomadic holds promises for productivity because artists can work anywhere at any time to reach their deadlines. Processes, communication, creativity, and networking all belong to the post-Fordist society, and they are the cause of us working all the time due to the immateriality of the labor. This changes our experience of time.  The projective horizon is always there and it is endless. There will always be a project in the future and due to the projective time we are not in the present anymore because were always thinking ahead. The future is always present in our minds. There is always a promise, something yet to come; we are thus in debted to time.

In talking about projective time and presence, I pose this question: to be or to become? A crucial question in this fast twenty first century. Are we living our lives in favor of what might come, or are we living in the here and now of a particular moment and enjoying every step?

Author and translator: Anne Meijer