Engraving in time
by Maciej Zapiór and Artem Koval

“What is time then? If nobody asks me, I know; but if I were desirous to explain it to one that should ask me, plainly I do not know.”
― St. Augustine

The time can be a substance (material) similar to other materials in art (clay, wood, iron, stone, marble, etc.). But who and how can use this substance in a creative way? Who can engrave in time as in wood, clay, marble... Who can physically touch this illusive material? Only those who work with time and astronomers belong to them.

In astronomy the definition of time is very operative. If we know time we know where the astronomical object is. It is an angle between an object and selected direction. Simply speaking, time is an angle. The true local solar time (shown by sundials) is an angle between the Sun and local meridian. Universal time (UT) used in all astronomical measurements/observations is an angle between median Sun (which can be treated as a concept) and Greenwich meridian. From the cradle of astronomy precise time-keeping has been essential. Time in astronomical phenomena was a key to understanding motions of celestial bodies (Sun, Moon, planets).

As professional astronomers and spare-time solarigraphers we started to think about how to use time in art. Time passes like sand through fingers. How to keep it? Is there any way to catch it, fix it, hold it, detain it, record it ... ? How to convert time into something concrete, stable, and solid? We discovered that solarigraphy gives the opportunity of engraving in time. A long exposition solarigraphy, lasting half a year between solar solstices, shows all positions of the Sun in the sky during this period. Each line there represents one day and each point on the line corresponds to the specific time instant. We designed a device, which in contrast to a constantly open solarigraphy camera, includes a shutter. Our device is also equipped with electronic components, which control the shutter. The software sends commands to open or close the shutter. By doing this simple action in selected time moments, we govern a pattern on a photo sheet which is composed of shredded solar tracks. It is nothing else but engraving in time.

By executing this project we manifest that Science and Art are very close to each other and even overlapping. We engraved the sentence "SCIENTIA EST ARS" in Latin that translates as "SCIENCE IS ART". We found that scientist's work is similar to an artist's performance. Both of them create new ideas and discover different parts of the Universe: scientist - outer and artist - inner. In the project our unconscious call of non-rational activity mixed with scientific desire of exploring unknown areas. 

(c) Artem Koval and Maciej Zapiór (2022)
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