A Different Sense of Time - Reading Tactical Media

This short essay for Cahiers Costech explores the complicated relationship of activist and experimental / artistic practices around digital and online media to the problem of time.

Both activist and experimental artistic / cultural practices seem to be deeply preoccupied with the immediacy of the present. In the case of activist practices the urgency of the issue at stake demands a continuous attention to what is happening ‘on the ground’. Experimental arts and associated cultural practices are rather more preoccupied with producing ‘the new’, conducting experiments (hence why we call them ‘experimental’) and responding to the immediate outcome, jumping from one experiment to the next in pursuit of this elusive ‘newness’. The connection between activist and experimental cultural practices seems to lie in a shared temporality of immediacy.

My argument in the essay is that this entrapment in the immediacy of an ‘eternal now’ impedes a deeper critical discussion and understanding of these activist and experimental practices. To address these conditions from the perspective of tactical media and associated practices a different sense of time, a different temporality, is required. This different sense of time needs to be developed in at least in two distinct directions: First of all the preoccupation with the immediacy of the eternal now must be challenged and broken. Simultaneously, the temporality of tactical media and associated practices also needs to be compressed to engage with the time space of ultra-short duration of bodily affects and real-time machine operations.

Kluitenberg Eric. "A different sense of time. Reading Tactical Media - some preliminary remarks", 17 October 2023, Cahiers Costech, numéro 6.