24 Hours in Uchronia

Kevin Walker (Artist), Helga Schmid (Artist)

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


    I co-curated this event at Somerset House, London with artist Helga Schmid, whose research translates alternative time systems into spatial practices. This ‘atemporal event’ replaced standard event programming based on clocks and calendars with an alternative model aligned to chronobiology.

    My contribution was to translate this into specific spatial treatments and activities designed to activate the space in computational terms. This included the use of interactive digital projections to create a computationally responsive space, using elements of randomness and emotional qualities successfully used in previous projects—for this we commissioned a new work from artist Nayan Kulkarni. We also used lighting and furnishings to explicitly influence visitors’ behaviour, using different coloured lighting in each room, with activities programmed in each room at different times, to prompt people to move around, tied to chronobiological phases of the day. Furnishings ranged from a room filled with large cushions and lit in red, intended to provoke sleepiness; to no furniture at all in a large, blue-lit space intended for wakefulness and physical activity. We commissioned other artists and performers for the other activities.

    One of our key findings was to blur the distinction between event and exhibition—a durational form of curation aiming more generally to create a transformative experience. This means carefully negotiating between education and exhibition departments within institutions, commissioning work from artists for brief installations, and commissioning performers to act within art installations, all while audience participants free to wander where they wish. Schmid’s contribution is to tie such programming to bodily, chronobiologocal phases, and mine has been to introduce nonhuman actors in the form of computational, biological and material intelligences.

    Our broader contribution, from this event particularly, is to raise critical awareness about the temporal systems and algorithms that control our lives. The event was linked to Somerset House’s exhibition 24/7, based on Jonathan Crary’s book of the same name. In this sense, the event was as much about de-programming as it was about programming.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2020
    Event24 Hours in Uchronia - Somerset House, London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 7 Feb 20208 Feb 2020


    • event
    • uchronia
    • performance
    • time

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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