Time’s Arrows

Time’s Arrow

Based on yesterday’s thoughts, I composed an abstract study of the passage of time.

Arthur Eddington introduced the concept of time as an arrow, proceeding in one direction, in 1927. Objectively, time ticks away at a constant rate (ignoring the theory of relativity, for our purposes): one minute is just like any other. Assuming this is true, time can be represented by a straight arrow, the tail of which is in the past, the head pointing toward the future.

What about subjective time? We do not experience time as divided into equal parts. For example, a person taking a university exam may not realize that the hour has expired while he or she has been concentrating on answering the questions. On the other hand, time can seem to proceed at a tortuously slow rate under certain conditions, such as the experience of a bad first date.

Subjective time applies not only to the present, but to memory as well. The experience of time of the past is influenced by a number of things: 1) the state of consciousness at the moment; 2) the person’s age – a child may not have the understanding or enough brain development to register events at the moment, which leads to distorted recollections; 3) the intensity of a past experience; 4) the significance of a past event.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Today’s watercolor experiment began with a backward ‘S’-shaped line, inspired by yesterday’s post about reading a contact sheet from first photo to last. I added a tail at the upper left and an arrowhead at the lower right. I prepared a wash of Payne’s gray and created a gradient from dark to light, the dark obscuring the tail of the arrow. This curve represents subjective time, the past being obscured by a gray fog.

The yellow and blue oil-painted squares represent past events that attracted the subjective time line. The yellow block emerges from the past just as one recalls a fond memory ‘as if it were yesterday’. The blue rectangle is a more recent memory that shifts the time line by the ‘gravitational force’ of its remembrance.

I represented objective time by a straight arrow, superimposed on subjective time.

Both time lines intersect at the heart, which is the arbiter of memory.

Watercolor: Abstract Representation of Objective and Subjective Time

Time’s Arrows
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


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