This pathway began with a prompt to organize the artifacts chronologically. Instead of ordering each artifact according to the date when it was made, we decided to organize them according to a temporal imagination. Chronology, as we imagined it, is not simply biographical information about an artifact: it is how the artifact imagines its position in time.

Based on this framework, we identified three categories: artifacts facing backwards to reimagine the past, those trying to shape the present, and those facing an imagined future. The chronological spectrum ran from the artifact looking into the deepest past to the one looking into the furthest future. This mapping does not rely only on overt mentions of pasts or futures; it is structured on the implicit understandings of time built into each artifact.

The artifacts identified as primarily occupied with imagining a deep past began with From Magma to Mankind and Borealopelta. Both artifacts are attempts to discover and theorize an ancient kinship network for present-day humans. With Banff Merman and Matter Transformed, each artifact combines natural elements and fictional narrative to create a meaningful and more recent history for people today. At Ghost Forests, the spectrum turns to the present: it represents our current moment as people watch climate change affect the landscapes they know well–in effect, watching the present become the past. Puritan Watch is also occupied with the present, though the watch itself was made around 1630. Its makers saw present time as something the watch wearer could control, using the hours each day for virtuous behavior that would secure them a future in heaven. From there, the spectrum shifts to the future. The myth-making that accompanied the Trinity Nuclear test emphasized the bomb and nuclear energy as the end of one time in history and the beginning of another characterized by accelerating scientific progress and industrial growth. This argument about the future continues in @I_sodope_’s view of the future merits of nuclear energy. Post-Natural History continues this meditation on technology’s role in moving from a before-time to an after-time in the anthropocene. Finally, The Golden Record is profoundly invested in imagining a deep future, in the company of unknown others from outer space.

What arguments about time are being made through different artifacts/texts? When is time an explicit category and when is it invisible?