Standard Deviation: Time and The Body

SunDial:NightWatch_Tapestry Dossier, 2015

Susan MorrisSunDial:NightWatch_Tapestry Dossier, 2015Artists' book, 28 x 17cm, edition of 100



A half day symposium followed by drinks reception and book launch

Conceived and led by artist Susan Morris this symposium looks at ways in which artists have used automated processes of drawing to explore time, the body, and the machinic gesture or trace.

Briony Fer (Professor of History of Art, University College London): On Darkness
Margaret Iversen (Professor Emerita, University of Essex): Marking Time
David Lomas (Professor of Art History, University of Manchester): Tangled Lines
Susan Morris (artist): Standard Deviation 
Michael Newman (Professor of Art Writing, Goldsmiths, University of London): Anti-Portraiture in the work of Susan Morris

In The Emergence of Cinematic Time, Mary Ann Doane explains how, around 1900, time became palpable. Modern metropolitan life, it became clear, was only possible given the imposition of a Standard Time. This rationalization of time entered the workplace with machines for clocking into work, and invaded the body with adaptations of chronophotography used for time and motion studies.  In short, time became lived differently owing to new technologies – including technologies of representation.

Jonathan Crary extends this argument in his recent book, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, observing how technologies of the Industrial Revolution have now been supplanted by those of the Information Age to create a homogenous time of sleeplessness. Current modes of productivity, linked to networked computers that never sleep, demand ever more time from us – a demand that penetrates deep into the dark space of the body. As Hannah Arendt has argued, without this dark space that 'suffuses our private and intimate lives,' the singularity of the self is eroded. How does the body respond to – or resist – increasing modes of regulation and visibility and instead go its own, rather more unruly, way?

A new artwork by Morris will be on display during the symposium. Made directly from recordings of her sleep/wake patterns, and extending over five years, the piece uses a digitally controlled Jacquard loom like an enormous automatic drawing machine. A limited edition artist’s book, Sun Dial : Night Watch_Tapestry Dossier, designed by Valentine Ammeux, will also be launched at this event.

Symposium speakers will explore the wider issues raised by Morris’s work. A discussion, chaired by Kate Macfarlane and Mary Doyle, co-directors, Drawing Room, will follow. 



Click here for a reading list compiled by the symposium speakers

Click here for a guide to the symposium presentations