Waiting on Time

Urban geographer Edward Soja understands the experience of the modern city as an articulation of space, time and social being (1989, 13). The previous stops have imbricated the uncanny within being and space - a spatial ontology of sorts - but have not dealt explicitly with issues of time. Needless to say, any experience of space and being are always mediated through time and to this extent, the tour is of course temporal. This stop isolates the idea of time through waiting and chance. Participants take a vantage point above the railway track and are encouraged to wait for a train to appear around the bend. When seen from a distance, this familiar scene takes on a spectacular form; the train’s arrival becomes a spectacle of the night. It emerges in the form of speed and light and has an uncanny ‘living’ quality to it. Its motion conveys a sense of animated presence and force, and signals its capacity to traverse across, and out of the urban landscape.

Waiting is premised on patience and compromise. The participant cannot be sure of when the train will come, and when it does, the moment is fleeting. In terms of measurable time ‘spent’, the wait exceeds the spectacle itself and prompts the participant to question how long they are prepared to remain in this space. What amount of ‘time’ is too long? Importantly, is there any value in waiting itself? In many ways, this experience parallels quotidian experiences waiting for public transport. Yet in this instance, there is no use value in waiting, no train to catch, no place to arrive.