Killing Time is a suite of three sculptures exploring themes of time, labor, alienation, neoliberalism, and violence. The sculptures are Untitled (Watch), a watch that functions by running a razor blade back and forth at irregular intervals, Untitled (Computer), a computer monitor displaying activity logs accompanied by a mouse and keyboard covered in shards of glass, and Untitled (Phone), a phone wrapped in barbed wire that plays alarms at irregular intervals.
These works came out of a continuous research project centered on the concept of time, specifically in how it relates to neoliberal capitalism. In each case they are an attempt to explore the violent, increasingly dyssynchronous and atomized nature of time under neoliberal capitalism.
The guiding question for this research has been: How can the fantasy of physical violence allow for an understanding of the non-visible psychic and symbolic violence within the Real of time under neoliberalism?
Killing Time is an installation made up of three sculptures accompanied by sound. The sculptures are Untitled (Watch), a watch that functions by running a razor blade back and forth at irregular intervals, Untitled (Computer), a computer monitor displaying activity logs accompanied by a mouse and keyboard covered in shards of glass, and Untitled (Phone), a phone wrapped in barbed wire that plays alarms at irregular intervals.
The pieces each focus on different aspects of time and digitized labor under neoliberalism, while together they act as a distorted scene from the desk of an office worker. In Untitled (Computer) the screen serves as a reminder of unproductive labor time: running a background process that tells the viewer of their current inactivity, while the mouse and keyboard (the entry-points into non-passivity) prevent any meaningful labor by being covered with shards of glass. With Untitled (Phone) alarms blare at the viewer, while barbed wire blocks any intervention into the system to stop the incursion of noise. And finally, in Untitled (Watch), a razor blade runs back and forth on a track where a digital watch face should be, keeping time through physically cutting the wrist of the potential wearer, a painful reminder of time passing.
Untitled (Computer) is a computer running a shell script that tracks user activity for random intervals of time, logging the output to the console and erroring out during inactive periods, accompanied by a keyboard and mouse covered in shards of glass. The screen serves as a reminder to the viewer of their inactivity, while the keyboard and mouse deter any engagement with the system.
Untitled (watch) is a watch that tracks time through running a razor blade back and forth at irregular intervals. It is part critique of the violence in time under neoliberalism, and part mediation on the thirst for the Real. If worn, the watch would register time by slicing the wearer’s wrist.
Untitled (Phone) is a smartphone wrapped in barbed wire that plays alarms at random intervals punctuated by periods of silence.
The works are kinetic, but they are non-interactive: they strive to evoke the fantasy of violence where there is none. Contemporary art sometimes strives to break through the facade of reality and into the Real through hyper-violence in order to "awaken" the viewer. But, the issue with this is that it avoids the Real of the illusion itself, which emerges through spectacle. For Lacan, an illusion can happen when one mistakes their desires for reality. The reduction of everything to “bare life” means that an attack on life outside of the biological cannot be recognized as violent or painful. With this, there comes a thirst for physical violence as an escape from the symbolic violence of time under neoliberalism. The hope is that by not showing the physical violence (not presenting the works as a performance, for example, with someone being harmed by the objects) the viewer can come to realize their own internal thirst for this violence, as a refuge from the pain caused by the shifting nature of time under neoliberal capitalism.