Uchronia: Time at the Intersection of Time, Chronosociology and Chronobiology
ABSTRACT: The societal transformation from an agricultural to an urbanised 24/7 society, reflected in a move from natural time to the mechanical clock to the contemporary digital age, has significantly influenced our daily biological and social rhythms. Modern technology has fostered an increasing temporal fragmentation, heralding an era of flexible time with ever more complex processes of synchronisation. These inhumane rhythms conflict with the natural rhythmicity of the human biological clock.
This thesis investigates the potential of new perceptions of time through the application of uchronia — a term derived from the Greek word ou-chronos meaning ‘no time’ or ‘non-time’, and from utopia, from the Greek ou-topos. This research is situated within contemporary debates on the nature of temporality, often denoted as time crisis or dyschronia. It investigates uchronia as temporal utopia and in the way it generates insights about our knowledge of contemporary temporality.
The research develops an original uchronian methodology and applications of uchronian thinking in practice-led design research, intertwining design, chronobiological and chronosociological research to propose a new area of chronodesign.
Through design practice, I explore how scientific research can be translated into lived, aesthetic experience. The methods range from critical and speculative design (thought experiments), artistic research (unlearning methods), to methods drawn from chronobiological research (zeitgeber method). I investigate practical work which challenges thought patterns regarding the temporal structure of contemporary life, in which participants explore alternative time-givers or synchronisers, in order to think outside the boundaries of clocks and calendars.
By providing a broadened definition of uchronianism, I aim to establish uchronia as a platform for critical thought and debate on the contemporary time crisis, with chronodesign as a practical design initiative.
Upcoming Publication by Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland PhD Thesis, Royal College of Art, London, 2017
For more details see uchronia.world