Time travel is really the act of standing still

You are not the person you were a decade ago. You regenerate your cells every 7-10 years, becoming fundamentally different. The Time-Lapse exhibition at SITE Santa Fe, which closes May 20 after a three-month run, changes just subtly and frequently enough to remind us of this metamorphosis.

Take, for instance, Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation's  whiteonwhitealgorithmicnoir, a film that cycles endlessly without repeating itself. Pulling footage and multiple soundtracks from an algorithm, it simulates the intimacy of the moment, a unique experience.

This leads us to believe that no experience can be reproduced. Even habits, no matter how similarly repeated, are original acts. An exhibit that forces you to recalibrate with the ever-changing nature of the universe is sure to jive with the "be here now" proselytizers, but is it a viable curatorial alternative?

Time-Lapse requires revisiting. Mary Temple's installation, in which a portrait and a caption depicting political events are added to a wall everyday, takes the form a calendar. In an adjacent room, diary entries written over a painted blue sky (Byron Kim's Sunday Painting) accumulate on a weekly basis. The progression of these pieces is gradual and doesn't rely on suspense to keep us thirsty for more. The feeling is more that of watching water boil.

If this exhibition does keep us coming back, however, it does so by appealing to the religious compulsion with which we watch news updates and check Facebook. The show draws out this mentality through constantly updated installations that pander to the compulsions of perpetual seekers and the attention-deficient.
As a curatorial experiment, works that change in order to entice viewers back seem gimmicky in comparison to timeless works. Truly engaging works, regardless of theme, inspire people to return.

The motivation to revisit an exhibit ultimately lies in the hands of the populous, and not the curators. The political portraits and diary entries, for instance, perpetuate the way we already deal with time—with a linear view. They don't reinvent the way we cope with it as much as question the way we measure it. Does time pass by the second, by the cup of coffee or by political and personal change?

A more expansive view of time can be found in the pieces that urge us to consider ourselves part of something bigger; that all time, past and future, and all people, across the city, exist simultaneously in the present. In the exhibit E Pluribis Unum, Latin for "many become one," Axle Contemporary superimposed portraits of Santa Fe residents on top of each other to create "Our Virgin of E Pluribis Unum," a composite of all the individuals who participated.

In congruency with this theme, Pulse Index collects fingerprints and displays the images together in a large pixilated abstraction. And in the Time Capsule Lounge—consisting of beanbag chairs, books and a projector—the 1997 film compares a universe of atoms to the universe at large.

Fingerprints become geographical maps, hundreds of portraits become one Buddha-like entity and atoms form the universe. In other words, we can't discuss time without also discussing space, the space in which your cells regenerate.

Time-Lapse: Through May 20. SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo De Peralta, 989-1199

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