Pigeon Time

During a workshop organized by The Incredible Shrinking Man, Robert Nelk asked himself why pigeons sit so carelessly on the road when cars race towards them. They’re not particularly bothered by the approaching danger and only fly away in the last moment. Nelk wondered if this is because smaller creatures have a different sense of time.

In 2008 Henk Jan Bouwmeester, a researcher for The Incredible Shrinking Man, participated in a walk organized by the American artist Robert Wilson. The walkers were given one strict rule: they had to walk very very slowly. In 4 hours only a very short distance was covered, perhaps the distance The Incredible Shrinking Man would have walked in this time. Bouwmeester observed that: “Objects that under normal circumstances are close-by, now seemed very far away because I was aware of how long it would take me to reach them”. The experience of distance and space thus seems closely connected to the experience of time. Perhaps pigeons, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, have more time because they experience more space.

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