Time Operations

Time Operations

Cidália Ferreira Silva (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4186-8.ch005


This chapter proposes four time operations—gleaning, grounding, stimulating, and transmuting—for practicing time within architecture as an expanded field. By exploring the relationships between the future-past-present through folded time as coexistence and lived time, these time operations unfold the ways to make interprojects for cultural landscape adaptability. First, the background that supports this research is presented, namely, why is it relevant and the main references with which this path was made concrete. Second, the meaning of time is defined as a way to understand what time practice is being deepened. Third, each operation is explored by describing the main features and procedures pertaining to gleaning, grounding, stimulating, and transmuting. Fourth, the chapter discussion continues by revealing the relationships between the operations, namely moving beyond the expected linear succession. The chapter concludes with a hypothesis of further future development as well as the main conclusion and key terms.
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This chapter presents four-time operations (Figure 1): Gleaning, Grounding, Stimulating and Transmuting. An operation is a procedure or process that constructs a specific mode of relation between elements (Bois & Krauss, 1996, p. 11). Each operation’s emphasis on action supports the potential for the significance found in the act of relating. In this case by exploring specific time relationships.

Time operations act as a set to explain ‘time as a practice’ in creating inter-projects, namely for the challenge of cultural landscape adaptability. Inter-projects are inter-time mechanisms that perform the relationship between the future-past-present and allow an understanding of this relationship through folded time as coexistence – the intersection between Michel Serres’ folded time (Serres & Latour, 1995) and Friedrich Kümmel’s time as coexistence (1968) and lived time. Not only is each operation’s definition systematized within its main features and procedures, but also within their mutual interconnection by discussing the relationships between them.

To rethink the relationship future-past-present is relevant in the sense that, whether engaged in a design project for a given place or conducting research about a specific topic, these three categories are continually connecting. That is, in the case of a project that interconnects the future-past of a place and a research topic that connects the future-past of the particular sought out knowledge. Moreover, folded time as coexistence triggers the freedom to work with ‘time’ beyond the constraints of chronological time and linear time, thus allowing a playfulness to unfold through a lived-time presentness and to generate unexpected knowledge.

The chapter is structured in four parts: a) in the ‘Background’ the arguments to justify the relevance of seeking this time practice, the main references to learn this practice and the time story behind this research clarifying their supporting roots is presented; b) in ‘What time’ the main conceptions of time used in this chapter are defined; c) in ‘Within each time operation’: Gleaning, Grounding, Stimulating and Transmuting is deepened respectively; and d) in ‘Across operations’ the interconnections between them beyond the expected linearity are clarified. Finally, possible future research directions and the main conclusion are presented followed by the references and key terms definition.

“Time operations” (Silva, 2011b) was first presented publicly at International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF) 2011. The ISUF was selected for its potential to bring cross-disciplinary approaches to urban form. Focused primarily on spatial form, the questions of time, when addressed, were mainly from the perspective of morphological evolution over time – ‘A reading of place through time,’ not ‘of time through place’ as sought in this research. Time operations give an insight on how to design with time from within the extensive urbanized landscape where urban morphology is only one of the many aspects to be considered. By highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of time, it disapproves of ‘project as control’ and welcomes ‘uncertainty’ as a joyful part of the researched ‘indeterminate project.'

Figure 1.

The four time operations

Key Terms in this Chapter

Non-Judgmental Language: Clear the brain of a-time language based on preconceptions that judge reality, such as this place “has character” or “has no character.” Aesthetic and morphological characteristics support these notions, and as such are deprived of time processes. It is as if a place is being judged by its “outfit,” that is, by its image. The consequences of negatively judging a place generate a project that puts itself in the realm of duality between project and place. By doing so, it can create more “time fissures” instead of healing those that already exist. Non-judgment is a practice; hence judgmental a-time language is deeply embedded in the architectural discourse thus creating an ongoing challenge. It is essential to be aware of it and learn to seek a language that is faithful to the material reality of the expression of time.

Uncertainty: Uncertainty means not-certainty; throughout the submergence into the nature of time; namely by folded time and lived time awareness, was discovered that all the “not-words of time”—such as uncertainty, impermanence, indeterminate, incompleteness—are more than negative words. They are a condensation of both the “root” word meaning (positive) and the “no” prefixed word meaning that transform them into the ‘becoming ‘words for the paradoxical nature of time – one that “is” and one that “is not” simultaneously. As Heraclitus states, “We are and we are not.”.

Programmatic Indeterminacy: The program is an abstract rationalization that gives the straight sensation that we are actually doing something for a place. It is a determination of the power of the intellect to control and evade time. It “uses change” and we cannot predetermine when or why; hence it is indeterminate. This implies that buildings and places should have the capacity to accept programmatic change. This also implies not assigning a definite program to spaces, buildings, or places but infusing them with the capacity to hold unforeseen uses. When we lack a finite program to support our decisions, what do we have instead? The opportunity to make a project that is simultaneously indeterminate and grounded. It becomes a design project that generates a folded time process in which the time traces of a place, whether past, present, or future, are coexistent and allow for the ‘unknowns’ of a place to be revealed.

Becoming-Belonging: The pair becoming-belonging sums up the incitement of places’ potential as the mutual core between vocation and appropriation.

See(d)(k)ing: See(d)(k)ing is the practice of transcreating (not-)knowing through lived time. See(d)(k)ing is the condensed presentness of seeing, seeding, and seeking. You see, seed, and seek simultaneously. No succession but transmutation. Transmutation is the changing across the operation, equivalent to the changing of the physical world: the water droplet is in the cloud, which is in the rain, which is in the zucchini, which is in the soup, which is in the see(d)(k)er, which is in see(d)(k)ing, which is in what is-seen-sowed-sought. Seeing means “seeking the awareness of”; seeking means the “attempt to find the not-known”; seeding means “planting the seed of transcreation,” from trans- (across, into another state) + creating “bringing into existence.”

Interproject: Interprojects embrace both design-as-research projects and research projects alike. Through the lens of folded time, there is no duality between these two practices. The first meaning of the interproject is “inter-knowing-proposing.” In the interproject, they are one. We know by proposing, and we propose by knowing. It is folded coexistent process in which proposing-knowing is simultaneously present, nourishing both. By so doing, a major non-duality is achieved: the interproject is one with the place or the subject of research. This leads to the second meaning. Interproject means “inter-time” – either “inter-places time” if we are doing a design project or “inter-subject time” if we are doing a research project. This is not recognition of its chronological presence between a past and future. The prefix “inter” opens a more challenging approach. “Inter-time” means the coexistent folded time unbound from past-present-future categories. “Inter” generates this interconnected coexistence. Therefore, the interproject works with a folded time coexistence between interconnected elements in time, either far or close. Furthermore, by being an “inter-time” mechanism, non-duality between place/subject and project is achieved. The interproject only catalyzes the interconnections within the flow of subject/places’ folded time. Lastly, interproject means “in(ter)completeness.” “Inter-time” is always incomplete, and this is its joyful chance aspect. The “ter” refers to “three”: the three simple realities of wabi-sabi that bring a special light to this “incomplete inter-time” project: “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” Released from the burden of making a project a ‘final product,' the author was fully free to explore the challenge of the incompleteness drawn in this inter-time connection as a simple dialogical catalyst.

Knowing-Proposing Oneness: Is an alternative way of deepening the relationship between proposing (project) and knowing, not as an analysis but as the material action of “knowing” a place. This is a coexistent process in which not only “knowing” and “proposing” are one, but “logical reasoning and creativity” are also one, coexistent from the very first instant. The designer’s intuition and experience are also present, but since the beginning, these have been there to generate relationships within places’ folded time. In the folded time approach, there are no separated phases but a network of coexistent interconnections that generate the deep knowing-proposing of the interproject.

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