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Time Capsule

Class: Time-Frame

Professor: Joseph Ayers

A composite image in Photoshop that folds multiple moments, objects, and/or spaces into a single impression. 

As I was going through the resources I found, I realized how we could not experience time as a whole. What struck me is that from the readings that I’ve done, I learned that time is an abstract idea that humanity has created to keep track of. Ironically, we can not see the time. The only way to explain what time is from the five senses of our body and physically feel the changes that time has done to our body. Therefore, engaged by this idea, I elaborated on the concept of experiencing time. Only to realize something even more interesting: we perceive what time is as what we see, which only includes the 180 degrees of our vision. Have you ever wondered what is happening behind you? What is happening at the same time but just another wall away? Through this project, I want to challenge the idea of time, where we humans can only experience sensation and the mystery happening to us every day as we walk on the streets. The layered images create an illusion of our space and remind us that time is a moving object of eternity.

Process Documentations: 

Idea 1 (Landscape): the folding of time/repetition of time

Time itself repeats multiple times as generations of humans set their feet on this planet. The use of layering combines eras forming one single piece. For example, the cultural revolution vs. the policies China is experiencing now is very similar.

Idea 2 (human figure): the eternity (moving image of eternity) 

In the aspect of humans, time is an eternal cycle of life and many things. It is still hard for humans to learn what time is, but we know multiple spectra of time and time structure. Through the use of various locations, we can create an illusion of time.

Initial Ideas
Initial Ideas

Sonnet XII

When I do count the clock that tells the time,

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

When I behold the violet past prime,

And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white;

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,

And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves,

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

Then of thy beauty do I question make,

That thou among the wastes of time must go,

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake,

And die as fast as they see others grow;

      And nothing ’gainst Time’s scythe can make defence,

      Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

William Shakespeare

After reading what Shakespeare had to say about beauty and how it vanishes through time, I realized that to witness time, we as humans can only do so by observing a particular object or our bodies.

And by observing the things we see, we can only focus one at a time. We can not see what is going on around us when focusing on a particular object or event. The thought of this inspired me to finalize my ideas for Time Capsule and decided to settle down on the theme of “Experience of Time.” As I was walking on the streets and in the subway stations, I realized that each one of us experiences different “times.” The time you are experiencing is happening in front of you as you walk; the time the others are experiencing, and living is presented in front of their eyes. This difference is how I would explain the experience of time and what time is.


From the readings, research, and understanding, time is an abstract idea that humans have created. It can’t be easily described by words but by what we see. The existence of time is made when we realize the sun is moving across the sky, the growth of a child, the process of fruits rot, and so on. 

Therefore, we can say that time can only be measured when something is moving. Just like how Plato included in the Platonic dialogue Timaeus where he describes time as the “moving image of eternity.” A “moving” image can only explain time, and by “moving,” I mean the changes that an object experience as time passes. For example, fruit can’t move, but it can rot. So the process from fresh fruit to a rotten one, to a decomposed one, that process is time. Another example can be scissors. Though, as we all know, scissors don’t experience life. However, it can also “move” by getting rusty. In conclusion, we can’t explain what time is or the structure of time if nothing moves. In this Time Capsule project, I want to explore the different times that people are experiencing by taking two photos on each street I walk through. One is facing one direction and the other facing another. Or two images that show the same place but at different times.

Through this project, I wish to discuss the topic of the definition of time. And to inspire people to think about how they would answer the question:


What is time?

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