Gelitin includes duration in its toolbox of expressive means by amplifying the challenges surrounding ‘real-time’ art.
The concept of ‘real time’ first developed in the late 1950s-early 1960s by the designers of the computer systems network for the US Air force Strategic Air Command. Its goal was to provide instant response to a missile or bomber attack. Then the term ‘real-time’ was applied to time-sharing computer systems. Jack Burnham (b. 1931), a writer who focuses on art and technology, applied the term ‘real-time’ to artworks that are designed to evolve over time, in contrast to traditional art works, like paintings, that exist in ‘mythical time’. Mythical time is disassociated from living systems and is protected from the stresses of day-to-day events.
Gelitin includes duration in its toolbox of expressive means by amplifying the challenges surrounding ‘real-time’ art. Rabbit, a massive sculpture, is not only designed to be temporary, it will be an unsightly brown mess as it decomposes, a process that promises to take transpire over two decades.
Members of Gelitin reported that, thus far, the villagers who live in proximity to Rabbit have honored their commitment to leave the sculpture undisturbed throughout this long period. “Vandals don’t want to harm the rabbit. People know it was done for them. It is not for sale, not for tourists, not for opportunity, and not a logo for any company. There are no souvenirs, no postcards, no T-shirts.”20 The sculpture offers an example of an eco artwork that, instead of expending resources for art preservation, enriches its ecosystem as it ages.
Compare the ‘real-time’ component of Rabbit with Ant Farm’s Cadillac Ranch, with Natalie Jeremijenko’s OneTree(s), with Jae Rhim Lee’s Infinity Mushroom, Eduardo Kac’s biotopes, or with Simon Starling’s Shed/Boat/Shed – all of which exist in real time. Is the evolution of these works temporary or continuous, predetermined or random, linear or cyclical?