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Time and the Digital

Connecting Technology, Aesthetics, and a Process Philosophy of Time

Timothy Scott Barker

Publication Year: 2012

An original consideration of the temporal in digital art and aesthetics Eschewing the traditional focus on object/viewer spatial relationships, Timothy Scott Barker’s Time and the Digital stresses the role of the temporal in digital art and media. The connectivity of contemporary digital interfaces has not only expanded the relationships between once separate spaces but has increased the complexity of the temporal in nearly unimagined ways. Invoking the process philosophy of Whitehead and Deleuze, Barker strives for nothing less than a new philosophy of time in digital encounters, aesthetics, and interactivity. Of interest to scholars in the fields of art and media theory and philosophy of technology, as well as new media artists, this study contributes to an understanding of the new temporal experiences emergent in our interactions with digital technologies.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. xi

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p. xiii

This book was completed while I was employed as a research fellow at the iCinema Research Center, the University of New South Wales. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dennis Del Favero, the center’s director, an artist with unique and unrelenting vision, and an extremely generous and supportive individual. I would also like to thank Anna...

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pp. 1-16

Time, although experienced by everyone and everything, is a notoriously difficult concept to come to grips with. After all, it is always moving, changing, and escaping our grasp. In the fourth century Saint Augustine, in his theological ruminations on God’s relationship to time, wrote, “For what is time? Who can briefly and easily explain it? . . . So...

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1 | Experimenting with Time

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pp. 17-31

In Serres’s description of the late-model car, we see an image of presentness constituted by a drawing together, or assemblage of, what he terms “the pleats of time.” In essence this is a multi-temporal assemblage, taking form in the present. The object of the late-model car...

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2 | Time and Process

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pp. 32-57

For Heraclitus, as well as for Whitehead and Deleuze, reality is not a constellation of stable things but of processes, which cannot be substantialized into a priori things or substances. For these process thinkers it is not the stable things but the fundamental forces and the fluctuating activities that constitute reality.1 For instance, in relation to the theories of...

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3 | Deleuze’s Time and Serres’s Multi-temporality

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pp. 58-74

Whitehead’s and Deleuze’s ideas resonate most powerfully in the way both thinkers attempt to move beyond conventional ideas about the “subject” and to understand the world beyond the usually privileged position of the conscious human mind. To this end Deleuze invents the concept of the virtual, as an entirely real but not actual level of existence....

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4 | The Time of David Claerbout, Bill Viola, and Dan Graham

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pp. 75-95

For the artists David Claerbout, Bill Viola, and Dan Graham, the re-presentation and experience of time are central to the aesthetics of their work. As already mentioned, I use the term “re-presentation” to link the concept of representation to time, to emphasize the artistic act of presenting again, presenting for a second time, in this case presenting...

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5 | Events & Interactive Aesthetics

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pp. 97-119

In the previous chapter, using Claerbout, Viola, and Graham, I cited various examples of the way in which both “old” and “new” media have been used to experiment with time. By using these artists as a lead in to the exploration of interactivity set out over the coming chapters, I do not, however, mean to imply that they have in some way influenced these...

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6 | Technology, Aesthetics, & Deleuze’s Virtual

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pp. 120-139

Drawing on the last chapter’s exploration of the subjectsuperject, whose becoming always takes place in a technological milieu, and in which the interpenetration of human and nonhuman processes provide the condition for the aesthetic event, we can understand interaction as not merely involving actual objects, but also the processes and...

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7 | A Unison of Becoming

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pp. 140-160

Whitehead’s unison of becoming, an inherently temporal concept, positions the world creating itself at each moment of the present. At each moment, all the contemporaneous actual entities of the world are in a process of becoming, just as those that came before them are in a process of perishing. The perishing entities pass information to the...

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8 | Databases and Time

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pp. 161-190

In the previous chapters, my approach to interaction has been directed by a concern with time. I have viewed interaction and the processes of our encounters with digital systems as a temporal event, in which every immediately present occasion, in the sense that Whitehead understands them, draws into itself past and future occasions. In this...

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pp. 191-196

For Whitehead, Deleuze, and Serres, time cannot be reduced to a sequence of compartmentalized occasions set out on a line, nor can reality be thought of as made up of inert artifacts or objects. Likewise, the process of interacting with technology can only be thought of as a set of relational events, where each present moment draws into itself aspects...


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pp. 197-213


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pp. 215-225


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pp. 227-232

E-ISBN-13: 9781611683011
E-ISBN-10: 1611683017
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611682991
Print-ISBN-10: 1611682991

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 19 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 808670081
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Time and the Digital

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Human-computer interaction.
  • Digital media -- Philosophy.
  • Space and time.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Technology and the arts.
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