Function of time in narration of contemporary cities


  • Ernestyna Szpakowska-Loranc



Contemporary perception of time differs significantly from historical one. The contemporary time is speeding, divergent, meticulously quantified with abstract units, disconnected from perception of space. Differences between day and night, physical and digital, far and near are constantly, gradually vanishing. With this new time perception, contemporary urban space has evolved. Cities extend, their centres melt; deallocation, speed and light images explode interior-exterior oppositions. The space aspires to the speed of light. Shizophrenic, kinetic reality, where signifiant leaves signifié is characterized by discrepancies: economic barriers, fences, and incessant opening into virtual reality. Time is a factor joining events in narration and in architecture. Chronology of events is shattered in contemporary literature, introducing strategies of retrospection, anticipation and anachrony. The situation in contemporary architecture is similar. These strategies appear also in contemporary cities: retrospection in historic monuments, anticipation in avant-garde, “science-fiction” buildings and anachrony in non-places on the verge of physical and virtual reality. Lines of events in a plot of a city’s narration has changed. Certain duality of a contemporary city space appears: perception of sheer time in ruins, monuments, and a temporal flow of events-spaces. Along with the speeding urban organism, an idea of slow city spaces has appeared. The idea of a city “tasted” with senses, replacing the terms of acceleration, progress and change with: slowness, reflection, variety, essence; effects of reflective attitude towards reality, traces of resistance against the inevitable loss of beauty in contemporaneity. A phenomenological approach as a response for the speeding city reality. Thisarticle analyses affiliations between the contemporary perception of time, narrative strategies and city space.