Art: Tangiable time

(October 2010) Is it possible to depict time? Saint Augustinus is quoted to have said that it is almost impossible to even imagine time: „If no-one asks me to explain it, then I know what time is but if I am asked to explain time, I no-longer know what it is“, he wrote. A clock with hands and numbers on its face or a digital version, are at sort of guide to visualization and Salvador Dalí painted the famous work Persistence of Time. Austrian artist Arnold Reinthaler also captured time – in granite and marble.

He etches a seemingly insignificant phrase like „back soon“, as often seen in storefront windows at lunch break, in black granite Nero Assoluto. With the living contrast between the expression and the material the phrase becomes eternal – are etching in black stone not usually found on memorial and grave stones?

These are two temporal levels: transience and duration. One could add an incidental observation particular to our cyber-age: what is actually worth keeping and what may be discarded.

By means of a simple design idea he adds another temporal level: The last letters of the phrase are unfinished – the „soon“ will last an eternity and never materialize, having left even the note unfinished.

Reinthaler’s theme is the multi-faceted complexity of time, e.g.: the moment which cannot be captured because it is past as soon as it reflected upon. To capture time, the artist from Vienna reverts to engraving once more, this time a digital display in black granite standing still as the display is seemingly shut on or off and all elements are alight.

Or: „long time recording“ where Reinthaler breaks down time into individual cubes of Thassos marble for each hour of a year. The artist nicks off one cube for each day during the 12 months during which he worked on a project. Our photo captures the stance of July 5th 2010.

In „within a second“ he captures the time service announcement at precisely „nineteen thirteen and twenty-four seconds“, written (in German) in shorthand. The hand written text runs from the end to end of the stone slab exactly, when after a moment’s pause the voice will hop to the next slab and announce 19:13:25.

To think this installation through: if all 86.400 seconds of a day were to be carved in stone and hung on the walls, the observer and his shadow could be conceived as the hands of the clock…

It is apparent that Reinthaler is less of a sculptor than an installation artist closely linked to science. No wonder, with his diploma in art as well as his doctorate in art science.

He endeavours to give beholders something to think about by means of accompanyig videos like the work related to „tightly knit“ in which he stages a knit-in.

Arnold Reinthaler

Fotos: Arnold Reinthaler (6), Richard Watzke (1), stone mason, sculptor and mediadesigner for stone-producing companies (German)