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Time and the Anthropocene: Making more-than-human temporalities legible through environmental observations and creative methods

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Time and Society
Issue number4
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)461-487
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/10/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Anthropocene term invokes the multiple temporalities through which organisms, ecologies, and environments unfold – from the immediacy of the present moment to the sedimentary timescales of the geological record. Viewed from the perspective of anthropogenic climate change and environmental degradation, these organisms, ecologies, and environments, including the planet's human occupants, may well benefit if we took a view of time that was more-than-human in scope and scale. This paper demonstrates how design, creative practice, and technology can be used to make legible human and more-than-human timescales through local, planetary, and celestial imaginaries that are congruent with the Anthropocene term. It first considers various anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic phenomena that are used for time keeping, both human and non-human. It then discusses the design and development of a timepiece that uses observations of environmental light to imaginatively situate daily life within various temporal scales, from embodied, diurnal, circalunar, and annual to the sedimentary timescales of the geological record. Through the timepiece, the paper argues that a hybrid form of timekeeping that brings together human time standards and environmental observation could help align the temporal imaginaries of urban societies with biological, ecological, and planetary processes, while highlighting the presence of potentially damaging anthropogenic processes, such as artificial light at night. Such hybrid forms of timekeeping may help foster meaningful relationships between people and the environment, facilitate day-to-day awareness of the presence and extent of disruptive anthropogenic processes in our environments and provide an imaginative framework for thinking about urban time and life in an Anthropocene context.