Time and Form: The "Unthought Known"
In this chapter, Mieke Bal examines the visibility of time. Time has no form, no shape. It can leave shapes, in the sense of historically specific styles, but time itself is formless. It can be used in rhythm, which can sometimes create the illusion of form, something we take from music and rhythmic poetry. But it is not time that has that form, it is the music, verse, or even the rhythmic breathing that espouses time, that has a form. Formlessness does not entail invisibility, however. The choice is not to either see fully shaped forms or to see nothing, but to learn to practice a »visual habitus« (Kaja Silverman's term) that enables us to see what, by lack of recognizable form, seems invisible. In general, as the time passing in the everyday, »all the time«, time is so self-evident that one would not wonder about its potential form. It only accedes to awareness when its apparent flow is interrupted. This can be due to nature or man-made disasters, traumatogenic events, which change the course of time, in one way or another. For the last two decades Bal has been pursuing artistic experimentations with video that attempts to explore the potential visualization of the form of time.