Allochronic Cycles pairs posthuman intelligence with prehuman, ecologically rooted thinking. For us to move forward, we look backwards across millennia, seeking an AI that comprehends timescales in a way that humans cannot. In response to human lack of synchronicity with other living beings and the planet, Allochronic Cycles explores ecosystemic relationships through interrelated yet vastly different timescales. The connected kinetic artwork points to this lack of synchronicity of human and nonhuman cycles, with humanity on an evolutionary pathway unrelated to the rest of the living world—as if we existed in different geological eras: in allochronic cycles.
Both physically and conceptually, Allochronic Cycles presents contrasting, concentric circles of time. Allochronic references time according to different geological and biological divisions, where distinct times (epochs and their associated environments) delineate the spatial and temporal boundaries for creativity. In Allochronic Cycles, we create a kinetic representation of the synchronous and asynchronous time cycles of differently scaled systems, ranging from the broad development of the cosmos to the evolution of life on Earth to photosynthesis and plant processes and, finally, to the fast-paced life cycles of viruses such as COVID-19. Alongside the cycles linked to multiple time-based logics of an ecosystem, an artificial intelligence uses time forecasting to anticipate the impacts of the accelerated speed of modern human societies.
Allochronic Cycles proposes that intelligence originates in the complexity of nonhuman life cycles.
In positing new futures, Allochronic Cycles imagines an artificial intelligence that learns from nature’s different timescales and responds to human time as it interacts with the cosmos, planet Earth, the plant Arabidopsis and COVID. The artificial intelligence predicts the acceleration of human impact on these macro and micro timecycles, which is observable in the rotation of the independent yet interconnected disks.
The artificial intelligence (allochronic intelligence) monitors and interacts with wall-mounted, spinning disks programmed according to distinct times. The AI observes the lag time between prehuman and human cycles, generating possibilities for time forecasting and anticipating future outcomes. Each of the disks and their associated cycles interacts with the others through lasers. The allochronic AI observes the interactions among the different timescales and can potentially interrupt those and reset the cycle. At the same time this AI measures human disruption, calculating atmospheric carbon levels. The artificial intelligence predicts the acceleration of human impact on the macro and micro time cycles, which is observable in the rotation of the independent yet interconnected disks. As the disks’ and the time cycles’ interactions are mitigated through the transmission of the lasers, the AI influences the disks’ cycles and shifts them, according to its calculations.
“Allochronic Cycles,” a name that refers to being out of step with a geological epoch, suggests that we as humans must evolve our intelligences. By synchronizing with other species and broad planetary systems, we have the potential to become more-than-human.
“Allochronic Cycles” is based on the research of plant biologist Joanne Chory at the Salk Institute and was developed in part in a residency at Coalesce Center for Biological Arts, where Cesar & Lois looked closely at lichens with resident biologist Solon Morse.
In the development of Allochronic Cycles, Cesar & Lois dissects time, seeking to decode the temporal perspectives of disparate species such as Arabidopsis and Lichens. This transdisciplinary journey has taken Cesar & Lois across layers of time and into the timescales of the accelerated lives of viruses to the growth of plants to the age-defying progress of the cosmos. This journey began in the laboratory of Dr. Joanne Chory at Salk Institute, where she and several scientists walked the artists through the lab’s research on the Arabidopsis plant. The project development coincides with the global advance of a pathogenic virus, which inescapably has influenced the artists’ thinking about living cycles.
Joanne Chory studies the internal clock of what to all appearances is an ordinary plant. Her breakthrough discovery revealed that, in the plant’s first twenty-four hours, the plant protein Auxin signals Arabidopsis to grow in a specific way in response to light exposure. In this way, one day codes the plant’s architecture for its entire lifespan, determining how much carbon the plant is capable of absorbing.
How do we, in our very fast evolution, relate to the rest of the world?”
– Joanne Chory, in conversation with the artists (September 24, 2019)
In response to this conversation and during a residency at Coalesce Center for Biological Arts at University at Buffalo, Cesar & Lois observed different levels and layers of nature. The artists archive and distill plant specimens from their environment, which are ground into pigments and embedded into the time cycle of the cosmos.
Cesar & Lois acknowledges
Dr. Camila Cunha and LGE (UNICAMP, Brazil) and Dr. Solon Morse and Coalesce Center for Biological Arts (University at Buffalo, NY): research;
CSUSM DaTA Lab students Jinxui Han and Zhiwei Li: research and visualization of time cycles; and student Victoria Rios: growth study of Arabidopsis
Allochronic Cycles was supported by a Trifecta: Art, Science Patron exhibition grant, a Coalesce Center for Biological Arts residency, CSUSM Professional Development Grant, and Grant 2018/24452-1, São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).