Xárene Eskandar wants you to feel awe.
The Los Angeles media artist, whose past work ranges from tree pods to a Google marriage proposal, has spent the past few months working on a series of videos that show us entire days in minutes. By slicing up hours of video footage into a single simultaneous frame, Waters Re~ shows us time passing in fast-forward at sites throughout California.
“The goal is to break the linear experience of time, allowing viewers to perceive multiple times within a single viewpoint,” she writes. “As a result, insignificant moments become significant events, heightening one’s experience of the landscape and one’s existence in that particular moment in time and space.” Most of the videos begin at dawn and end at nightfall. One shows us morning at the Salton Sea, a saline lake near Death Valley that was accidentally created in the 1930s. Nonetheless, it’s become a vibrant ecosystem in the time since–Eskandar’s video shows us scores of gulls swarming noisily over the pink waters. It’s a very cool effect.
There’s also a fascinating (and unlikely!) explanation for the videos: a new study (PDF) published by a group of psychologists at Stanford suggesting that when we experience awe, our perception of time changes. According to the authors, awe “brings people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying.”
Eskander is doing something like the reverse: She’s altering how we perceive time with the hopes of making us feel awed. “One thing I have heard repeatedly is how one can watch the videos over and over again, or how one is ‘mesmerized,’” she says. “The altering of time leads to awe.”