The Time Machine, Simulation Of Scientific Documentation – Lawrence Lek


The French Symbolist and proto-science-fiction writer Alfred Jarry proposed the term Pataphysics in 1893 to describe a kind of pseudo-scientific enquiry combined with a surrealist penchant for absurdity resulting in a science of imaginary solutions. Jarry’s Pataphysical Universe contains ideas and machines that defy the usual laws of physics. In 1899 Jarry published an article ‘How to Construct a Time Machine’ in which he describes and provides detailed specifications for the construction of such a machine made from quartz ribbons, copper and ebony gyrostats, electric motors and magnets. Lawrence Lek, a speculative sculptor based in London, has created a kinetic device based on Jarry’s descriptions with freely moving gyroscopic parts in accordance with Jarry’s recipe. Video documentation of the piece overlays footage of the machine in motion with detailed blueprints of the sculpture itself. A narration describes both the construction of the device and instructions for using it to move backwards and forwards through time. Filmed (or post produced) in high contrast black and white with aged-film blurring, and accented with dramatic shadows, Lek has created a fictitious simulation of scientific documentation. The shadow play, compositional techniques and use of montage are reminiscent of the films that Lazlo Moholy-Nagy made of his Light Space Modulator in the early 1930’s. The strobing choreography of machine parts and dynamic light-play creates a mesmerising effect on the perception of the viewer, transfixing temporality, in order to slow or speed up time. Paul Prudence


Lawrence Lek – The Time-Machine