The Temporization of Theory and Time Marina Gržinić
How can we think about theory being a territory as well? Today theory is first and foremost perfectly integrated within the new informational mode that governs capitalist societies. Theory is not connected with knowledge in the old, humanist sense of the word, but with information. And the efficiency of information is again connected to time; the speed of the distribution of information is what ultimately produces its surplus value. Theory is first and foremost a tool of colonization through information. This means that there is a huge battle going on within the field of theory. This battle consists of setting clear limits as to who, when, and what will be interpreted. It is of crucial importance who will give the first interpretation of a processes, which processes will be taken as pioneering ones, and in what way the process of understanding will be applied. To be even clearer: there is a whole new colonization going on in the world, mostly through processes of language translation and understandability. Many interpretations that do not come from the West European and North American context have no access to primal theoretical readings; most of the writings are brought into question with constant remarks that the text is not clear enough. Furthermore, never ending clarifications are requested from the writers of these interpretations who come from other Worlds than the First, capitalist one, being subjected to strange police methods and their time consumed and manipulated without limits, with constant requests for the readjustment of the thesis displayed in their texts. In most cases, manuscripts, essays, texts, papers, etc., are not published at all in the end; already—always—never (ever)—being clear or convincing enough! If they are indeed published, then one can see editorial censorship in the way that the dates when the theses were originally established are changed, or modifications added to the facts in the texts.
The production of time, as I termed this new mode of production of territory and theory, body and mind, is therefore replacing the older, modernist production of space (according to Henri Lefebvre, who wrote a book with this title in 1910). The production of time is a process that involves the temporization and production of time, just as was the case with space and territory. Neither space nor time are natural, but are rather subjected to artificial processes of change, production, and modification. That is why Lefebvre wrote about the production of space. The Internet, although a purely dematerialized unit, is perceived as a new space, inherently crucial for the production and dissemination of the surplus value of capital. How can we state that the Internet is a space vitally bound to capital? Because it is controlled, censored, and invested in financially, and its limits are regulated. All became perfectly clear after the September 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Servers within the Internet, perceived as spaces of absolute freedom, were shut down for a week, the stock exchange lost a significant percentage of its investments, and the Internet police intensified their control and monitoring of the Internet.
The temporization of time is a process showing that time is not a natural dimension, that it does not even exist at all, that is a dimension in synchronicity with our psychological perception of time.
Time accelerated, and new categories of time emerged (also in relation to history, which I can here very quickly summarize as long, short, and immediate history) that changed the perception of any information. This temporization of time, the production of time, the way in which time is speeded up, changes with technology. Every technology, of which the latest is tele-presence (accessing real spaces through the Internet via tele-directed robotics), is used to shorten this difference between time scales.
On the basis of Richard Beardsworth’s prophetic ideas it is possible to say that we can detect a process of constant tension between the nature of the technical tool that allows the mediation of time, and the human experience of time. This tension can most immediately be seen with the digitalization of memory support systems and the digitalization of archives: our experience of time is being rapidly foreshortened, creating a tension between the international nature of the electronic techniques and the corporal realities that make up much of human life.1 It is also clear, thanks to Beardsworth, that future technical intervention into the genetic “ingredients” of what is perceived as human will accelerate processes of evolution at such a speed (if this remains the correct term, again according to Richard Beardsworth) that present conceptions of history, inheritance, memory, and the body will need to be dramatically reorganized if the definition of what “is human,” and what “is not” is not to become a monopoly game between the techno-sciences and capital (Beardsworth).
Such a situation can be avoided, thanks to processes that grasp as accurately as possible the radically artificial condition of the production of time and space, and the aspects of technology that are inherent to such productions. Time and space in their relation to technology and capital—for example the connection of biology and genetics through technology—can help at least to delay (but never to prevent, unfortunately) some of the future catastrophes, and to give contingency a powerful new space.
Furthermore, it is important to grasp that without technical devices today we cannot recapture the experience of time: the dimension of remembering and the dimension of anticipating time. Without memory support techniques, from photography to CD-ROMs, or the Internet and DVD archives, the experience of the past would also not be possible.
The temporization of time precisely articulates a lifetime as a process deeply rooted in prosthetics.
1 / Richard Beardsworth, Derrida & the Political, Routledge, New York and London 1996.
This is a subchapter from Marina Gržinić, “The Time Space Paradigm: Biomechanics & Memory,” Situated Contemporary Art Practices: Art, Theory and Activism from (the East of) Europe, Ljubljana: ZRC SAZU, Revolver, Frankfurt am Main 2004, p. 59–76.