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HI, I’m Alexandra Mendez, an art history graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. Monika Bravo’s “An Interval of Time”, commissioned for the Jackson School of Geosciences, is a digital animation that explores the concepts of time, and our understanding and experience of it, through the lens of geological occurrences. It utilizes research and data from the school of geosciences as both inspiration and raw material for the installation. Comprised of animations running circularly across three flat screens, the work weaves together photographs of the lush countryside of Bravo’s native Colombia, satellite imagery, seismic graphs, and poetry to create a complex collage that moves on top of a striking background of bright strips of color.
An Interval of Time invites the viewer to meditate on the many ways in which humans make sense of the natural world. The work begs the question: how is it that we as humans have attempted to make sense of the vastness of the Earth through science and art? It suggests a connection between these two disciplines by placing various elements such as poetry and numerical data alongside each other.
With a background in fashion design, Bravo notes that her work is often inspired by the process of weaving. In “An Interval of Time” she draws a connection between computer coding and weaving by suggesting that the way we use a binary system to code is similar to the process of braiding together individual strands on a loom. In doing so, Bravo suggests a shared process for the creation of knowledge between these two artforms. She uses layers of data as a way of weaving digitally. In fact, computer programming, which is based in 0-1 binary system, was inspired by a textile weaving machine called the Jacquard loom that uses an intricate punch card to create patterns in woven fabric. Bravo connects digital and analog binary codes by creating digital animation loops that she calls circular canvases. An Interval of Time thus connects ancient weaving practices to contemporary technology.
As the title suggests, the work is also a reflection on time itself. It is both interested in how we document time and also how we experience it as individuals. This inquiry of time is particularly profound when we think about the work’s connection to geology. In geological scholarship, the stretch of 4.6 billion years that mark the existence of the Earth is known as “deep time.” Of those 4.6 billion years, humans have only inhabited the Earth for six million. This period of time is known as the Anthropocene. Geology is a discipline that is by in large interested in the investigation of the period before the Anthropocene. Likewise, Bravo’s artistic inquiry plays with and draws attention to the ways in which humans have structured time in relation to our own existence, not the planet’s, thus suggesting a mode of experiencing time as something much more expansive.
Viewing time from a geological perspective could make us feel a sense of dread as we think about the colossal difference between the amount of time the Earth has existed and the amount of time humans have inhabited it. If 6 million years is only a small fraction of history what then is the significance of this moment? We could interpret human time on meaninglessly miniscule within the al vast history of the planet. “An Interval of Time,” however, does not diminish the great importance of the present moment and human contemplation. Bravo implies that this interval is both a tiny blip on the earth’s timeline and simultaneously long and important enough to notice variation, movement, connection, interweaving, and change.
Colombian, born 1964
Monika Bravo is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Miami. Her still and moving images, sculptural installations, and interactive digital animations explore reality as perceived through our relationship to space and time. According to Bravo, her works “decipher the laws of the universe,” and are informed by spiritual teachings such as Taoism, Buddhism, the Vedaś, and evolutionary astrology. She creates environments that allude to recognizable landscapes but challenge traditional linear frameworks.
An Interval of Time chronicles the evolution of Bravo’s practice over the past decade and underscores her deepening interest in the interwovenness of metaphysical, spiritual, and scientific inquiry. A non-linear understanding of time guides the artist as she intertwines images, text, and, codes to create multi-layered animations. Drawing inspiration from the primary elements that make up our planet—earth, water, fire, and air—Bravo invites the viewer to consider how we reconcile our knowledge of the natural world within our own lives.
An Interval of Time includes geological data layered with visuals recorded in locations such as Iceland, New Mexico, Colorado, and the artist’s native Colombia. These scenes are juxtaposed with imagery that includes numbers, satellite imagery, weather graphs, and poetry. Bravo’s animation links empirical data and science to ancient indigenous weaving practices—emphasizing the universality of storytelling—be it through mathematics, painting, speech, or other means of communication.
Lodged between the space of knowing and not knowing, between nature and fabrication, Bravo’s work has a liminal quality. By decontextualizing data and removing it from its scientific purpose, she creates a new a symbolic language through which viewers are invited to reconsider their own relationship to time and the planet.
Location: Jackson Geological Sciences Building (JGB)
GPS: 30.286104, -97.735734