Today there is a palpable sense that the world is on the brink of ecological, financial and political collapse – a fear that there are forces too large and obscure to confront which will decide our future. Timothy Morton theorises what he calls hyperobjects, which are so massively distributed in time and space that they defy the scale of human experience. He cites global warming and nuclear radiation – the stuff of our fears – as examples. ‘They wouldn’t fit in a landscape painting’, he writes – ‘they could never put you in the right mood’. There are, however, other, more hopeful, examples of hyperobjects. The internet, perhaps, for one, and projects being initiated by artists and designers around the world. In Halberstadt, Germany, for example, a group are now undertaking a rendition of a John Cage work for organ in a medieval church. The performance will take 639 years, with the next note change scheduled for 2020 – an expression of confidence in the future. While at Frontyard I will be working on research into these sorts of works and how they can give people an experience of the immense spatial and durational scales in which we live.
Ben will give a workshop on Wednesday 28 June.