How Long a Thing Takes: an invitation to think duration

Nik Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This video explains the training for and documents the performance How Long a Thing Takes: an invitation to think duration. As the solo performer moves in acute slow-motion, the experience of the performance becomes one of having duration rendered sensible. The passage of living time is the force of the performance. Instead of focusing on the spatiality of time as a dimension, time as a process of change as duration comes to the forefront. Its own time-specificity emerges as notions of slowness and repetition take on new meanings. The slowness performs the heterogeneous continuity of duration and repetition becomes a tensioning of the force of duration instead of an object-based idea of multiple quantities. Emerging as an exploration of the performances of Tehching Hsieh and the philosophy of Henri Bergson, this deceptively simple performance mirrors Christian Marclay’s The Clock but takes its mode of temporality to be duration and its method to be performance. The video that you will see includes not only documentary footage of the performance but reformats that footage into a matrix of simultaneities. The entire of the 1.5 hour performance is shown. Each of the two acts is segmented into 25 1.75 minute pieces and shown all at the same time. Look closely and you will see that each segment is different. It also includes a companion video to the performance, which is a static shot focused on a hand drawing out and writing the ideas behind the conceptual performance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVideo Journal of Performance
Early online date2 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Duration
  • Slow-motion
  • Henri Bergson

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