Edmond Couchot: Historische Zeit und UNCHRONISCHE Zeit


Edmond Couchot counterposed the concept of »chronic time« with that of »uchronic time«. The latter was shaped by simulations, eventualities and possibilities – it refers to a condition of permanent present-ness, free from delay, duration and action. Via the Internet, everyone can construct their own history, but these stories are not reproducible. Perhaps an archive functioning like an organic, living memory might serve as a medium to transmit these stories. The digital technologies (computers, global communication networks, multimedia, electronic games or art installations) have not merely changed our relationship with the world and the other, they have shaken our relationship with time and rocked the very foundations of our culture. We are torn between two temporalities. The first temporality belongs to chronic time, the longitudinal time of history, of the events absorbed and retained by writing, writing being what organises memory and oblivion. The second temporality belongs to machines and plunges us in a time outside of time, that virtual or »uchronic« time where events give way to eventualities. What happens to our world when writing, which has guaranteed the permanence of history until now, conforms to the model of hypertext and splits? When the thread which history spans from past and present to the future threatens to tear under the pressure of »uchronic« time? Are we to reinvent our relationship to time? What are the consequences of this change of temporality for the conservation of digital art works and for the sphere of art more generally? Edmond Couchot is »Docteur d’État« and »Professeur émérite des universités«. He has directed the master studies in art and technology of the image at the Université Paris 8 for twenty years and continues to participate in research activities at the Centre for Digital Imagery and Virtual Reality.