madeleine flynn and tim humphrey

How much time do we have? ACCA OPEN 2020

How much time do we have? is an ever-evolving, live-generated audiovisual piece of breaks, flows, segments, junctures and shifts that is made during the timeless state of the present evernow. The work employs only the most germinal materials – lines, points and simple polygons; sine tones in beating, harmonic and registral combination – without an intended sense of expectation or progression. Instead, the work plays out like a suspended machine catatonia, offering moments of beauty, humour, disturbance, a perpetually held tension and sense of hypnosis. Part Pong, part graphic score.

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey have conceived of how much time do we have? as a site-specific and time-based work, made in the midst of a global pandemic that has re-framed all our lives, including those of the artists. Broadcast precariously from a single computer located at the artists’ studio, this first iteration of the work will eventually fade from view when Stage 4 Restrictions have been lifted in Melbourne. This real time event provides a finite – if unpredictable – duration for a work that creates space for audiences to experience both alone, as well as in connection with others, in a purely virtual sphere; at a time when our physical worlds are necessarily limited.

how much time do we have? includes both written and audiated text. Through conversations with consultants Andy Slater and Fayen d’Evie (Society of Visually Impaired Sound Artists), and Will McCrostie (Description Victoria), Flynn and Humphrey engaged with the principles and techniques of audio description and alt-text, typically used for real world performance experiences and web accessibility for blind and low vision people, and then allowed these principles to inform the scripting choices within the work: combining descriptions about the overall visual landscape, and details about close-focus movements, with poetic observations and insights as to what the experience of the work may evoke for the audience. The text has also been informed by ongoing conversations with Noongar artist, writer and academic Cassie Lynch, whose research into the connections between Noongar storytelling and climate ecologies have informed the artists’ approach to the experience of time within the work.

Currently, there are no alt-text readers available for moving image that is generated live. In creating the audiated text for how much time do we have? Flynn and Humphrey adapted a machine-generated voice with an Australian accent in an ambiguous mid-frequency pitch range – a choice that recognises the cultural specificities and assumptions inherent within existing technologies.

how much time do we have? is made to be experienced on multiple devices and in various ways – for prolonged durations or short bursts, to be returned to at different times of day or night, with headphones or speakers, on a phone that registers the text illegible or on a large, absorbing screen. These different experiences draw attention to the multitude of contexts in which we individually find ourselves enduring a global pandemic: alone, in parallel, across different time zones and cultural understandings of time. In this sense, the work may be conceived of as a clock: marking time, coming into focus, fading from view, and waiting to reappear at a point in the uncertain future.

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey are Australian audio conceptual artists who create unexpected situations for listening. Their work is driven by a curiosity about sound in culture and seeks to evolve and engage with new processes and audiences, through public and participative interventions. Recent presentations include AsiaTopa, Melbourne: Setouchi Triennale Japan: Theater Der Welt Germany: Brighton Festival UK: Sonica Festival Glasgow: Asian Arts Theater, Gwangju: Perth Festival Australia: MONA FOMA Australia: and ANTI Festival Finland. Current areas of interest are the sound of existential risk, the audio agents of artificial intelligence in public space, and long form socially engaged public art interventions. They live in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia.



Stephen Banham, LetterboxFayen d’Evie and Andy Slater Society of Visually Impaired Sound Artists (SoVISA)Cassie Lynch Rowan McNaughtWill McCrostie, Description Victoria

Erin Milne, Bureau of Works

Thanks to

Annika Kristensen: Cryptic, Scotland: Cove Park, Scotland: Substation, Melbourne: Rinske Ginsberg and the VCA Class of 2020, and the Creators Fund.

This project is offset via

Working away on a new commission for Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

The work is part of the ACCA Open: Digital Commissions.

We are calling it How much time do we have?

Link for details here: