Kwan, Will »Clocks That Do Not Tell the Time«, 2008. Installation view. Detail. © Will Kwan
If there is one idea that always and everywhere makes its appearance whenever globalization is thematised, then it must be that all things are in movement: a constant flow of people, information, goods and capital. And yet this prompts the question as to whether, in the age of real-time communication the 'Now' could ever be caught up with.
Not how globalization transforms our present, but how it changes all those things which for us are part of the present is the question Michael Bielicky and Kamila B. Richter pose in their net-art work The Garden of Error and Decay (2010/2011). For whoever enters the garden, the 'Now' will pass by him much like a montage of simultaneous 'moments': a bleak parade of dancing and overlapping pictograms moving across the screen, each one visualizing a disaster communicated on Twitter occurring at this very moment somewhere in the world. Not 'when is now?', but 'where is now?' enquires Will Kwan, The Global Contemporary artist-in-residence, in one of his earlier works. In Clocks That Do Not Tell the Time (2008) a series of wall clocks – as are familiar to us from airports and foyers in New York, London, Tokyo and Berlin – show the time on the peripheries of the globalized world: pollutants, industrial estates, military bases. In so far as Kwan reflects a globalized world through the symbols of a globalized present, he asks whose present the apparently universal unity of the new 'world time' represents. Whether the accelerated, ubiquitous 'higher, faster, further', is perhaps less an upswing than it is a collapse is a question Hito Steyerl addresses in the video work Free Fall (2010). We see a Boing 707, symbol of the world as transit zone, spin out of control – only, what still remains unclear is whether we have already been through the crash or whether it is still to come.
Art enquires into the globalized world because the global was never as present as it is today. What remains of the utopian vision of 'one world', which prevailed during the 90s is, above all, is the consciousness of the relativity of the individual 'Now', an entirely non-kitsch 'sense of coexistence'. Or, as Terry Smith writes, »we are all in these times together (...) We are, in a word, contemporaries.«