The Contingency Project

Sometimes we wait for a very long time before anything happens. And when it does happen, it’s like our waiting begins again. Nothing is coming and everything is coming. People, news, trains, the future …. From our own standpoint we look around us and things that just arrived seem to be slipping away. They are rusting, or fading or, once amazing, now diminished. The pipes, rails, lights, signs, structures, all moving over into big time, non-clock time, the time of endurance, duration, suspension.

Our industrial past also now seems to belong to the time of aeon and animals. Freight trains, bearing their lumber and liquids, arrive from the past. It’s so ancient, with its machines and moving parts.

Now we know nothing is finished, nothing achieved – we’re always on our way. Everything that has been made can be remade, reconstituted, put together in a different way, according to new and different rules. The parts reassembled, repainted, reorganized.

Things are always getting broken up and redistributed. It’s a fact of life. These new aggregations may occur spatially or across time. Often there seems to be little point or purpose to the swarming of elements that were once based in place or moment. They just get up and go. No longer able to function in the configuration that introduced them into the world, they drift into new assemblies, new becomings. Consider the familiar elements of railroad infrastructure: rail beds, crossing signs, water towers, platforms. If these are placed into new and unfamiliar relationships, their functional and symbolic roles are altered. That’s OK – in their new configurations they are able to break with the past and enter quite different organizations and assemblages. Are they not renewed?

Flight through time is a little different. While we are all used to the cuddling up of the new and the old, sometimes we cannot tell the new from the old. The old is renewed and the new is already old. Inevitably we ask what is old; what is new? Do these distinctions even matter?

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