#1, Lake Eyre, 2011   

The Gift of Time and Space (2011 - 2018)

We enter these sacred lands soulfully and remember what it is we have forgotten - the gift of time and space. - Terry Tempest Williams, Ground Truthing, May/June 2003, Orion magazine.

The "gift" of time and space. The gift, that was once something everyone experienced, is now something less common. For some it's even become an unsettling concept; the notion of having time, and space, can be daunting - even challenging. In a world where multitasking is a pre-requisite, it's become the daily 'norm' to be dealing with copious quantities of information and requests and deadlines; but when there are no tasks, no requests, no distractions, what do we do? Do we create more tasks for ourselves, or do we just let go; in time, and in space.

Time and space have even undergone commodification, like so many 'free' experiences have. Maybe this is because people have forgotten what to do when confronted with the notion of boundless space. The simple pleasure of wandering into an area where there is nothing but space, and the time to reflect, is now something you can buy.

Of course, not everyone needs instruction on how to approach the 'void'. Huge numbers of Australians are very adept at surrounding themselves with space - and in many ways this is a natural phenomena in a country that is vast, and mostly empty. Even small patches of urban space, such as parks and grassy areas, are used as places to stretch out the mind a bit. Children are amongst the most productive users of time and space. They rejoice and revel in it; a trip to the local park reveals their delight. Some of them go quite crazy and sprint around in circles at the sheer joy of a fenceless field.

As we age, space shrinks. I remember the feeling of expansiveness when walking out onto an empty cricket pitch or football field as a youngster. It seemed like there was nothing beyond the edges of the field. This phenomena is reinforced when visiting the area I grew up in as a child. Hills that seemed insurmountable on my pushbike as a child now look like mere bumps on the road. The school playground, once a boundless stretch of unbroken grass, now appears small and the fences that surround it are very noticeable.

Contrarily, as we age, our world expands. We travel, we know more "stuff" - about places that are beyond our vision. Our knowledge provides the ability to 'know', or at least 'imagine', what's beyond the edge of the football paddock. Still, living in the built world of a large city, space shrinks again. Our interpretation and understanding of truly large spaces remains somewhat incomplete. The physical nature of the built world just has too many objects in it that restrict, constrain and confine our vision.

Some spaces are vast, and especially interesting is what do we think when confronted with an environment where there are no humans, where there are no sounds, where there are no features - no trees, rocks or hills. Places like this give a heightened perception of self, and of mind; which is seemingly all that exists. That can be both an illuminating and an intimidating prospect.

This series explores the notion of time and space, and what they mean to people. How do people interact with these concepts? What do they see? What do they think? What do they do?