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Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1477-965X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9533



The experience of time and temporally extended events is a fundamental property of mind, and of time-based media arts. In dealing with properties of time, does the operational logic of contemporary media production tools cohere with philosophical views on the experience of time? This article considers a range of views on the phenomenal experience of time as they relate to the production of time-based media. Embedded within our production technologies, the artist is faced with a new philosophical instrument: the production timeline. The timeline utility in most time-based media software (and non-digital precursors) adopts the cinematic model as its operating metaphor; a series of frames, assembled one after the other in sequence. But the timeline brings new temporal complications such as reversibility, hierarchy and modifiability. The timeline also contorts time into a spatialized dimension, represented as a linear vector within the software interface. Automatic adoption of the linear timeline and the frame as the base unit of temporal thinking is problematic. J. M. E. McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time based on contradictions within a range of possible temporal modal logics is compared with approaches to animation and editing software, and also interactive media software and their unique approach to time as potential events is considered.


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