Lawrence Lek – The Time Machine

The Time Machine - Lawrence LekThe Time Machine – Lawrence Lek

Shortened fragment of an item originally written for Neural Magazine [Issue 46]

In 1893 the French symbolist and proto-science fiction writer Alfred Jarry proposed the term Pataphysics in his novel Dr Faustroll to describe a kind of speculative scientific enquiry, beyond metaphysics, enhanced by a surrealist predilection for absurdity. In 1899 Jarry published an article ‘How to Construct a Time Machine’ in which he describes, and provides detailed specifications, for the construction of such a machine made from Quartz ribbons, copper and ebony gyrostats, electric motors and magnets.

The Time Machine - Lawrence LekThe Time Machine – Lawrence Lek

Lawrence Lek, a speculative sculptor based in London, has created a kinetic device based on Jarry’s descriptions with freely moving gyroscopic parts in accordance with Jarry’s recipe. Video documentation of the piece overlays footage of the machine in motion with detailed blueprints of the sculpture itself. A narration describes both the construction of the device and instructions for its use for the purpose of moving backwards and forwards through time. Filmed, and post-produced, in strong contrasting black and white with aged-film blurring, accented with dramatic shadows, Lek has created a fictitious simulation of scientific documentation. The shadow play, compositional techniques, use of montage is reminiscent of the films that László Moholy-Nagy made of his Light Space Modulator in the early 1930’s. The strobing choreography of machine parts and dynamic light-play creates a mesmerising perceptual effect, transfixing temporality, in order to slow, or indeed, speed up time.

Previously at Dataisnature:
The Spatio-Lumino-Chronodynamic Towers & Sculptures of Nicolas Schöffer
Light Space Modulator – László Moholy-Nagy
Patabotany #1: [At the Libarynth]

Alfred Jarry texts:
The Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll [PDF]
How to Construct a Time Machine [PDF]

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