Encountering Temporality VIII: Reiterating Sensory Methods

A point I raised in the previous post concerned a movement from documenting temporality and futurity on Lewisham Way to generating various engagements with temporality and futurity. In this post, I outline a further way in which this move from documenting might be made in terms of reiteration, and offer one example of how I am beginning to work in this way.


Judith Butler explains reiteration as such:


‘The task is not whether to repeat, but how to repeat or, indeed, to repeat and, through a radical proliferation of gender, to displace the very gender norms that enable repetition itself’ (1999: 189).


Butler’s focus here is on how reiteration may be a means of troubling gender norms which she sees as a form of repetition that functions as a form of social reproduction. In some senses, then, Butler’s conception of repetition is that of the reproduction of the same – an understanding of repetition that I attempted to dislodge in post VI through Deleuze’s and Grosz’s work, where repetition necessarily involves difference and novelty. However, there are connections to be made here between this latter notion of repetition and how Butler posits reiteration as an activity that has the capacity for the ‘proliferation’ and displacement of norms. In other words, reiteration may be a means to induce change.


Taking inspiration from these understandings of repetition and reiteration, I’ve begun working with some of the raw sensory data that I’ve included in previous posts in order to repeat it with difference. In particular, given that an anticipatory relationship with the future emerged as significant in the walks, I have returned to the issue of waiting that I raised in post V. In that post, I discussed Bissell’s account of waiting as a ‘relatively embodied activity or action’ (2007: 284), involving ‘an enlivened corporeal sensibility where bodies are highly attuned to their immediate environment and themselves’ (2007: 284). To think through this idea in more detail, I’ve edited video and audio clips included in posts V and VI to focus attention on what my body, as viewer and listener to the clips, becomes attuned to in ‘the immediate environment and myself’.




The video included here is an early experiment which takes the video image of the ‘WAIT’ sign of one pedestrian crossing and mixes it with the sound of waiting at another pedestrian crossing (Waiting video, post V and Pedestrian Crossing III, post VI). The original video and sound have both been slowed down – to 25% of their initial speed. In slowing the speed down, my aim was to begin to amplify the sense of waiting that they both elicit. In doing so, my attention is drawn to the differing speeds at which pedestrians and cars move along Lewisham Way, as well as to the disjunction between the image and audio – at some points they seem to match up, while at other points the sound pulls apart from the image, indicating traffic that can’t be seen, for example. My attention is also drawn to the pulsing of the WAIT sign; an effect of the video camera rather than what the pedestrian crossing sign does. I think about how this pulsing coincides, or not, with what I can see and hear. The video image ends before the audio, focusing attention on the bleeps of the crossing, only here their speed indicates not the rushing that I discussed in post X, but rather more of a drawn out movement. Indeed, the slower speed changes their pitch, making them strange and raising the question of what they are and refer to.


These indicative points aim to demonstrate the activity that is taking place in waiting and that the body can become attuned to particular actions that take place in what for many is a mundane, everyday occurrence. However, the slowed down edit of the video and audio clips also elicits another sense in me, which is pertinent to exploring waiting: that of boredom. I can feel bored, and a bit twitchy when watching this edit, not necessarily more or less than I can feel waiting at a pedestrian crossing (which usually depends on whether I am rushing somewhere or have time to dawdle), but in ways that nevertheless make me think about such ordinary experiences of waiting. The experience of waiting, then, might well encompass the ‘enlivened corporeal sensibility’ of being bored.


My perception of these issues occur through different mediums – here of video and audio recordings – and editing techniques, especially slow motion. As I suggested in the previous post then, the multi-media, multi-sensory approach to taken enables both a documentation of temporality and an engagement with and reiteration of temporality. In these senses, reiterating data by re-editing it might be understood in terms of an opening up of what might be temporally noticed and felt.

Encountering Temporality VII:

So far in the blog posts I have focused on the temporalities that I have encountered and experienced via walking along Lewisham Way. However, an aim of this residency was not only to explore the temporalities themselves but also the various sensory methods that aim to grasp them. It is to this latter issue that this post turns.


In blog post II I discussed how sensory methods are one way in which the intangibility and ephemerality of temporality and futurity may be engaged. In posts III, IV, V and VI I thought through photographs, videos and audio recordings taken on walks of Lewisham Way to examine specific encounters with and experiences of temporality. One engagement with temporality that emerged as particularly significant is that of anticipation of the future; I suggested that in different ways, doorbells and pedestrian crossings are technologies whereby the future is anticipated.


It is difficult to consider whether this temporal experience would have emerged through a range of different methods as sensory methods were integral to how I have researched and examined the walks. In this sense then, it is possible to say that the sensory methods have at least in part generated the research finding that various visual and audio technologies found along Lewisham Way are anticipatory.


The recordings that I have included in the posts can be understood as documenting these encounters with and experiences of anticipation; they have captured them and enabled me to think further about temporality and futurity. However, the medium specificity of the methods has been less apparent. What do the photographs, video and audio recordings do, similarly and differently? What do they draw my/our attention to? What do they not do?


Beginning to reflect on these questions, my first thoughts are that photographing encounters with temporality on the walks enabled me to consider some of the standardised ways in which temporality is organised along Lewisham Way. This is especially the case in terms of noticing and documenting various signs (blog post III) and techniques/technologies such as doorbells (blog post IV) and pedestrian crossings (blog posts V and VI). Once I’d noticed these different technologies, photographs became a means of examining further how they elicit and organise experiences with temporality – for example in post IV where one photograph became the basis of an exploration of the anticipatory qualities of the doorbell.


In posts V and VI, the noticing that the photographs had enabled became the basis of video and audio recordings, which aimed to relate to the movements and stoppages involved in walking. In blog post V, which included some raw video footage of pedestrian crossings, I considered the temporalities of waiting and rushing, and suggested that these different temporalities be understood as embodied experiences where the future is anticipated. The moving images of the videos opened these temporalities up for consideration.


Blog post VI includes audio recordings to concentrate on the regularities and differences and novelties involved in repeated crossings of the same pedestrian crossing. The audio recordings drew my attention to what remains consistent in the crossings – the beeps of the crossing, and to a certain extent my footsteps – and what changes – flows of traffic and associated sounds. Listening closely to the sounds of Lewisham Way therefore became another way to examine its temporalities.


As noted above, in reflecting on what the different sensory methods afford, I am arguing neither that other methods wouldn’t be capable of capturing or drawing attention to similar themes, nor that these are the best or optimum methods for considering encounters with and experiences of temporality on Lewisham Way. Rather, I am suggesting that in deploying these particular methods in these particular ways, particular themes, issues and concerns emerged, and it is to these that my attention has been directed. The aim of this residency then, is not so much about producing a holistic or representative account as about generating relatively short, sharp investigations into some of the possible ways in which sensory methods may engage temporality and futurity on a specific stretch of road in south east London.

Encountering Temporality VI: Pedestrian Crossings and Repetition

In the last blog post, I focused on the affective temporalities of waiting and rushing that I experienced at pedestrian crossings on Lewisham Way. This week I concentrate on another affective temporality: repetition. Whereas the last blog post included some raw video footage, in this one I include sound recordings, captured on a free iPhone app called Recorder.



Walking often involves repetition. There are certain streets that we may frequently travel, on our way to or from home, work, bus stops or train stations for example. There is a particular pedestrian crossing on Lewisham Way that I often use. Over the past few days, I have been audio recording crossing it.


Recording I: Recording without crossing the road


Recordings II-V: Recordings whilst crossing the road


Repetition is usually understood in terms of ‘the same’. Indeed, one dictionary definition of ‘repetition’ is ‘something the same as before’, while synonyms include ‘replication’ and ‘duplication’ (Microsoft Word dictionary). According to such an understanding, I move across the same pedestrian crossing in the same way organised by the same visual and audio technologies. In these terms, listening to the audio recordings, I may pay attention to the repetition and regularity of the beeping that marks out the time given to cross the road. My footsteps – which can just be heard at different volumes on the different clips – also have a certain regularity to them, indicating that I walk at roughly the same speed on multiple occasions (I never reach the other side before the beeps stop: I always have another two or three steps to go).


Repetition and difference

However, within each of these crossings is difference, not only because each crossing is made at a different time of day, but also in other mundane ways. For example, while the beeping and my footsteps have a certain regularity to them, the ways these sounds co-exist with those of the traffic that passes, stops and starts again, and with other noises including music, demonstrate that no two crossings are the same.


Deleuze argues that ‘To repeat is to behave in a certain manner, but in relation to something unique or singular which has no equal or equivalent’ (2001: 1). In this way, while repetition involves a particular kind of behaviour – walking across the road at a specific pedestrian crossing – attention is drawn to what might be ‘unique or singular’, that is novel, new, creative, in each crossing. In the examples that I am focusing on here, there is novelty in each crossing in that none sound the same. The lengths of the clips also differ, depending on when I arrive at the crossing, how long I wait to cross and when I end the recording. Here, novelty refers not so much to the spectacular or exceptional, but more to the everyday and ordinary; the activity of crossing a road and recording it.


Repetition, difference and futurity

If the difference that may be found in repetition involves novelty, this implies that repetition concerns, in part, temporality. As difference and novelty, repetition involves change and the potentiality of transformation. Another way of putting this is that repetition is oriented to the future (e.g. see Deleuze 2001: 93-94).


One way to develop this idea is through the relationship between repetition, habit and the habitual. As with repetition, a prevalent way in which habit is understood is as the unthinking, automatic replication of the same activity or behaviour. However, as Elizabeth Grosz notes, habit also involves change. No two repetitions of a habit are the same, and habit concerns the transformation of an activity. As such, ‘habit [is] fundamentally creative and addressed to the future’ (2013: 217). She goes on to argue that habit is, in part, ‘a temporality that is open-ended, in which the future is not contained within the present, but where the present established certain regularities to anticipate what the future may involve’ (2013: 221). In this way, crossing the road is a routine and habitual activity that involves difference, novelty and change, and ‘certain regularities’ that anticipate the future.


In the previous post on pedestrian crossings, I suggested that the temporal experiences of waiting and rushing are encounters with futurity in that they are affective anticipatory states. In this post, by focusing on sound recordings of repeated crossings, I have indicated my first thoughts on a further way in which pedestrian crossings may be understood in terms of anticipatory encounters with and experiences of the future, this time through the difference that is involved in repetition.



Deleuze, Gilles (2001) Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, London and New York: Continuum.

Grosz, Elizabeth (2013) ‘Habit Today: Ravaisson, Bergson, Deleuze and Us’, Body & Society, 19:2–3, pp. 217–39.

Encountering Temporality V: Pedestrian Crossings: Counting Down to the Future

Lewisham Way is a road busy with traffic. Pedestrian crossings are situated along its length. When crossing the road via various pedestrian crossings I encountered several different temporalities, including waiting and rushing or feeling hurried. The experiences of these temporalities are in part organised through specific visual and sonic technologies and techniques, which pattern the speeds and slownesses of walking. In this blog post, I include some raw sensory data produced through my iPhone video camera that attempts to capture some of these temporalities, and more especially how they engage the future.



Invariably, one needs to wait to cross Lewisham Way. At the pedestrian crossings, the need to wait is explicitly signalled via signs that illuminate once the button expressing one’s intention to cross the road is pushed. It is usually accompanied by a sign which features a person standing still illuminated in red on the other side of the road. These signs stays lit up while the traffic continues along the road. Once the traffic has stopped, the ‘WAIT’ sign goes off, and the illuminated red person changes to a green person walking.



At some, newer, pedestrian crossings, the illuminated sign of the green person walking is accompanied by a clock that counts down the remaining seconds to cross the road. This technique both helps to hurry people across the road, and allow them to assess whether or not they have time to cross.


At other pedestrian crossings, the illuminated sign of the green person walking is accompanied by the sound of an evenly paced and relatively fast beeping, again measuring out the time a pedestrian has to cross the road.


Counting down to the future

These three examples indicate that encounters with temporality may be both common and mundane. They also indicate that encounters with temporality arrange and pattern the movements and stoppages of walking. Furthermore, for my particular interest in futurity, these three examples can be understood in terms of an engagement with the future. Drawing on the last blog post on the anticipatory qualities of the doorbell, the waiting and rushing organised through the visual and audio techniques of pedestrian crossings also involve the anticipation of the future – in the case of the sign of the decreasing seconds left to cross the road, literally counting down to the future.


As anticipation is an affective state, such encounters with temporality and futures are, then, necessarily also embodied experiences. What such an understanding of the temporalities of pedestrian crossings therefore implies is that both rushing and waiting can be conceived as ‘relative embodied activity or action’ (Bissell 2007: 284). Indeed, as David Bissell goes on to argue, rushing and waiting may be considered both in terms of ‘an enlivened corporeal sensibility where bodies are highly attuned to their immediate environment and themselves’ (2007: 284), and ‘a tendency to be quite unaware of one’s body, where the body remains passive and acquiescent’ (2007: 285). The aim of this post has been to begin to gesture towards these affective, embodied states, and the role of a future temporality in producing them.




Bissell, David (2007) ‘Animating Suspension: Waiting for Mobilities’, Mobilities, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 277-298.

Encountering Temporality IV: Doorbells as Anticipatory Devices

Walking along Lewisham Way and documenting encounters with temporality, I came across a number of doorbells: on homes, shops and organisations. The latter includes the Lewisham Arthouse, a charity that supports arts and arts-based learning through creative workspaces, specialist facilities and exhibitions and events, whose intercom system and bell is shown in this photograph.

Focusing on a doorbell as an encounter with temporality may at first seem strange or irrelevant. However, one of the aims of this Residency is to explore some of the objects, devices and materials via which temporality is organised, patterned and encountered. This blog post sketches out some first thoughts regarding the temporality evoked by the doorbell. It concentrates not so much on sensory methods as the temporal sensations and affects that a particular device may produce.


The doorbell may be understood as what Bruno Latour (1992) calls a ‘mundane artefact’ that arranges human action, but which is often missing from sociological and other social scientific accounts. For the purposes of this study, the doorbell may be conceived as establishing a particular temporality – one that is anticipatory in how it is felt and oriented around in embodied ways. Once a doorbell has been rung, somebody anticipates a response and somebody is expected to respond. The doorbell ringer waits in expectation and the respondent is expected to move into action. In this sense, it is an everyday, ordinary technological device via which the future is encountered and experienced.


Anticipation involves an affective experience of the future; as Vincanne Adams, Michelle Murphy and Adele E. Clarke put it, with anticipation, ‘our presents are necessarily understood as contingent upon an ever-changing astral future that may or may not be known for certain, but still must be acted on’ (2009, 247). This is an affective state because ‘[a]nticipation is the palpable effect of the speculative future on the present. […] As an affective state, anticipation is not just a reaction, but a way of actively orienting oneself temporally. Anticipation is a regime of being in time, in which one inhabits time out of place as the future’ (2009, 247, original emphasis). As an anticipatory device, the doorbell may be seen as affective then; it is embodied and felt.


Andrew Metcalfe (2000) discusses the doorbell as a specifically temporal and future-oriented device. Reflecting on being the respondent to a rung doorbell, he charts the various affects he feels as a result of the anticipatory character it produces: dread, doom, anxiety, apprehension, suspension. The future brought into being by the ringing of the doorbell, he writes, ‘is not like the tomorrow that never comes, not something I’m trying to catch; the future, already determined, has impatiently doubled back to catch me!’ (2000: 6). The future has come to call on him – it is a certainty (there is somebody at the door who expects something) that nevertheless remains uncertain until the door is opened (who that person is and what it is that they want is unclear).


Importantly, Metcalfe argues that the unexpected ringing of a doorbell disrupts a range of organisational methods put in place by modern subjects to ‘minimise the possibility of impertinent encounters’ (2000: 14), including timetables, answerphones, and security cameras as well as affects such as reservation, flippancy and defensiveness. The doorbell indicates that:


‘I can no longer recognise myself as a subject in Euclidean space and chronological time; I am not a free agent, distant from the other;                 time does not move in a line from origin to end; events cannot be explained according to a causal logic based on antecedence; meaning doesn’t derive from a process of representation; mystery is neither the opposite of knowledge nor a lack to be filled with knowledge’ (2000: 14-15).


Instead, the doorbell is capable of bringing about an affective encounter; it ‘has miraculously made past, present, future and eternity converge at the doorstep’ (2000: 20).


The future that is produced through the anticipation of the ringing doorbell does not unpeel from the present in a straightforward fashion, but rather is non-linear and intensive. It is that which comes to take over the present – it has ‘doubled back to catch me’ – and which thus involves multiple temporalities at the same time. It is also that which is affective in the demands and moods it makes. Mundane it may be, but the doorbell indicates the multiplicity and complexity of temporality that may be generated through everyday devices.




Adams, Vincanne, Michelle Murphy and Adele E. Clarke (2009) ‘Anticipation: technoscience, life, affect, temporality’, Subjectivity 28: 246–265.

Latour, Bruno (1992) ‘Where Are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts’, in Wiebe E. Bijker and John Law (eds.) Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 225–258, http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/50-MISSING-MASSES-GB.pdf

Metcalfe, Andrew, W. (2000) ‘Meeting’, Space and Culture, 2000, 8: 184-197, accessed here: http://www.livinginrelation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Meeting.pdf

Encountering Temporality II: Lewisham Way and Sensory Methods

Lewisham Way, or part of the A20, is a major route into and out of London. Located in the south east of London and heading south it runs from New Cross towards Lewisham. The road continues towards the outskirts of south east of London. Many lorries and coaches going to or coming from the port of Dover as well as vehicles to and from Kent, Sussex and some parts of Essex travel along it. There are also a number of bus routes going into and out of central London that use the road, and at rush hours especially, cyclists weave in and out of the moving and stationary traffic.


At the start of Lewisham Way in New Cross is Goldsmiths, University of London, including what is now called the Richard Hoggart Building, and what was originally the main building of the navel college out of which Goldsmiths emerged. Heading south east, about a mile down the road at the other end of Lewisham Way, just before it turns into Loampit Vale and enters Lewisham, is Lewisham College, part of Lewisham Southwick College (LeSoCo), a further education college with over 13,500 students.



Lewisham College.


The walks that I’m conducting as part of this Residency begin at Lewisham College and end at Goldsmiths, or vice versa. The road is interesting, not only in terms of the range of vehicles that travel it, but also because it includes shops, charities, cafes, restaurants and residential housing. Just off this main road are a train station, mosque and church, as well as housing built over the past 150 years.


My focus is on how temporality is arranged and encountered on this stretch of road. There are many ways in which this could be done – as I outlined in the first blog post, I am looking primarily at objects, devices and materials. There are also many different methods that might be deployed to capture and think through encounters and experiences of temporality – I am working with sensory methods, including photography, video and sound recordings.




Sensory sociology, broadly conceived, aims to focus on what has tended to be bracketed out of sociological accounts of the world, and, relatedly, to recognise how the world is experienced in sensory ways. For example, John Law and John Urry note both that ‘[t]he fleeting, the ephemeral, the geographically distributed, and the suddenly proximate are of increasing importance in current senses of the social’, and that current sociological methods are ill-equipped to deal with them (2004: 403). Lisa Adkins and Celia Lury describe a contemporary ‘sensate empirical’ (2009: 18), Les Back argues for an expansion of ‘the sensory dimensions of sociological attentiveness’ (2012: 28), and researchers such as Lata Mani (2013) and Kathleen Stewart (2007) experiment with interdisciplinary modes of communicating sensory experiences of being in and with the world. Indeed, many sensory methodologies draw and adapt from practices in art and design, appreciating that sociology does not have the monopoly on ‘telling about society’ (Becker 2007), and that non-textual methods and modes of dissemination are important in involving (human and non-human) participants and audiences in sociological research (Puwar and Sharma 2012).


Importantly, such methodologies are also beginning to be taken up to investigate temporality (e.g. Back and Gunaratnam 2013), and futurity more specifically (see for example Lyon and Carabelli 2015, Ivinson and Renold 2013, Coleman 2016, Future Matters Collective, Cardiff). These approaches recognise the intangibility of temporality and futurity, which makes them tricky to study (e.g. Adam 2009), and harness the interdisciplinarity and affectiveness of sensory methods to ‘engage’ and relate to – if not capture and contain – the future.


One of the aims of the Residency, then, is to see what sensory methods might be able to open up regarding how temporality and the future is organised and engaged on Lewisham Way.



Adam, B. (2009) ‘Future Matters: Challenge for Social Theory and Social Inquiry’, Conference Paper: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/resources/Sardinia.pdf, accessed 09.09.15.

Adkins, L. and Lury, C. (2009) ‘Introduction: What is the Empirical?’, European Journal of Social Theory, 12(1): 5-20.

Back, L. and Gunaratnam, Y. (2013) Every minute of every day, http://everyminuteofeveryday.org.uk, accessed 01.07.16.

Becker, H. (2007) Telling About Society, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Coleman, R. (2016) ‘A Sensory Sociology of the Future: Affect, Hope and Inventive Methodologies’, The Sociological Review, early view: 14.12.16.

Future Matters Collective, Cardiff University: http://www.futurematterscollective.com, accessed 11th January 2017.

Ivinson, G. and Renold, E. (2013) ‘Subjectivity, Affect and Place: Thinking with Deleuze and Guattari’s Body without Organs to Explore a Young Girl’s Becomings in a Post-Industrial Locale’, Subjectivity, 6(4): 369-390.

Law, J. and Urry, J. (2004) “Enacting the Social”, Economy and Society, 33(3): 390-410.

Lyon, D. and Carabelli, G. (2015) ‘Researching Young People’s Orientations to the Future: The Methodological Challenges of Using Arts Practice’, Qualitative Research, online first: 19.05.15.

Mani, L. (2013) The Integral Nature of Things: Critical Reflections on the Present, London and New York: Routledge.

Puwar, N. and Sharma, S. (2012) ‘Curating Sociology’, in Back, L. and Puwar, N. (eds.) Live Methods, Oxford: Blackwell.

Stewart, K. (2007) Ordinary Affects, Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Encountering Temporality I: Walking, Media(tion) and the Sensory

In this Residency, I will explore the ways in which temporality, and the future especially, are encountered and experienced on a series of walks. To do this, I seek to focus on the objects, devices and materials via which temporality is organised, patterned and come across; preliminary research has indicated that these may include traffic lights, door bells, signs, shop opening hours, seasons, as well as more readily identifiable ‘clock time’ such as public clocks and timetables. I also aim to explore the temporalities that the objects, devices and materials identified generate and gesture towards, including, for example, waiting, rushing, checking and repetition, paying particular attention to how the future is involved.


In part, this focus on temporality and the future is to develop walking as a method that has, to date, primarily been attuned to the dynamics of space and place. What happens when walking concerns itself with time? How might encounters and experiences of temporality be documented?


To address these questions, I aim to work and think with a range of visual and sensory methods, including photography, video and sound recordings. In so doing, I also want to reflect on how these mediums may document the ‘same’ walk similarly and differently. A related aim of the Residency is therefore to make explicit the methods, materials and media via which walking as a methodology is deployed, and how the data that is produced may be arranged, curated and circulated. In these ways, the Residency intersects – or intra-acts – with many of the previous Residencies, which cultivate interdisciplinary arts based and visual and sensory approaches to walks and walking.


In the following blog posts, I will introduce the space that I will walk and include examples of, experiments with, and iterations some of the visual and sensory work that I’ll produce.


The work of the Residency will constitute a chapter in a forthcoming book, Engaging Futures: Methods, Materials, Media (Goldsmiths Press), a speculative book that offers a series of short case study interventions into how futures may be grasped and engaged through interdisciplinary, inventive methods – more details are available here and here. It is inspired by, among other things, teaching on the MA in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths.