SkeptiCamp NYC 2018 - Share the Apple of Knowledge
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Olga Ast

SkeptiCamp NYC Profile

Biography: I’m an interdisciplinary artist, curator and independent scholar. One of my main goals is to investigate connections between time, space and information. I have exhibited and lectured in the U.S. and abroad, presenting my work at art-science projects, including art shows and multidisciplinary conferences at Rutgers, New York, Gottingen, Moscow, Toronto and other universities; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the National Academy of Sciences; the Museum of Natural Sciences of Turin; the Bridges Math Art exhibit and the International Conferences on Time Perspectives.

My books include Fleeing from Absence: four cross-disciplinary essays on time, its nature and its interpretations; and Infinite Instances: Studies & Images of Time, a collection of papers and artworks by contributors to the ArcheTime project, which I have been curating since 2009.
Location: New York
Proposed Session Title: MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
Session Description:
For many years, my artistic action-driven investigation into the nature of Time has focused on exploring our shifting perception of Time from the ancient world to the present day as embodied in changes in its visualization; from the earliest depictions of the flowing river and the circular uroboros, to the linear arrow and the paintings of Dali and Magritte, who depict time with modern metaphors such as clocks and trains.

My presentation seeks to address visual metaphors of time and their connection to present-day pictorial and verbal messages and advertising practices that uncover, stimulate and enforce our desires and influence everyday models of life.

I will relate my experience of living under radically different socio-economic structures with different pictorial representations of the future – and argue that the common cultural preoccupation with narrowing our reality to a straight line going from Past to Future is one of the causes of a dramatic shift in our societies’ relationship to the environment.

Over the last several centuries, we have departed from a traditional cyclical understanding of time and have crafted synthetic lines between a dark past and a bright future; or conversely, between a Golden Age and an Apocalypse. This gradual shift is symbolic not only of our changing perception of the nature of time, but of our attitude toward the natural world. In our artificial environments, we look at nature as a resource – a starting point with the end-goal of an artificial product. Has our shift away from the natural/cyclical and toward the artificial/linear contributed to the rigidity of current socio-economic structures? And does our foray into a digital future take us even further in this direction? Or does it present new possibilities?

Could a different visualization influence our ecological and social behavior? Can artists, scientists and scholars collaborate to bring us closer to an answer to the age-old question of the nature of time, and craft an alternative path for technology and solutions to contemporary social, economic and environmental problems?
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