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Desert Time - a workshop by Jonathon Keats

Desert Time Backdrop

  February 15, 2024 3:30-5:30pm MST


  School of Art (Room 232)


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Desert Time

A Workshop by Jonathon Keats

Standard time is measured on atomic clocks, providing a technical basis for global transactions. Might local environmental conditions be more meaningful timekeepers? Might their natural cycles encourage us to nurture our environment and the relationships that matter most instead of overlooking and obliterating them? In this workshop, experimental philosopher and artist Jonathon Keats will guide participants through the process of making an annual environmental calendar based on careful observation and documentation of desert phenomena.

 Participants in this workshop will be invited to create annual calendars based on their firsthand observation of local desert. Each person will document qualities of the biome that he or she considers characteristic during the month of the workshop, such as flora or fauna or the sound of the wind. The participant’s observations – which may be recorded in any medium, from watercolor painting to musical notation to written language – will fill one leaf in a twelve-page diary that the participant will craft using paper and thread. The page will be marked with the month the observations were made. Desert almanacs will be independently completed over the next year by returning in successive months and making observations of the same environmental phenomenon, documenting its annual cycle in a dozen discrete stages. In future years, the booklet will serve as a personal standard for reckoning time by comparing the local desert to diary pages, finding the closest match, and reading the month in which the observation was made. Changes in environmental conditions will result in a discrepancy between the Gregorian and desert calendars. People will have the opportunity to prioritize the environment by acknowledging environmental months as a new time standard and synchronizing their lives to it.