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Time Travel, 1¢ 

Finding a penny set artist Robert Goetz's brain in motion

"Time is relative," Einstein postulated -- but Einstein had to paint his front door bright red so he could find his way home from work every day, so what did he know? The ebb and flow of time is a bewildering process, and making sense of its passage sometimes requires more than a physicist can provide.

Enter Robert Goetz, artist. His multimedia installation "1917" seeks not to describe time's steady march but to lay bare the secrets of what he calls "the nonlinear seepage of events."

Using silkscreens, etching, video projection and an "audio collage," Goetz hopes to shed some light on the now by conjuring up the past: "It all started with finding a penny," he says. "The penny had been imprinted with that date, the time signature 1917." The copper of the penny inspired his copperplate etchings, and the date became the focus for the audiovisual elements. Goetz's interest in the penny as "a stored collection of sites and sounds, both of the past and present" led him to research the events of 1917, discovering parallels and strange coincidences relevant to this wacky modern age: Italian futurists began experimenting with music as a force for social change, electronic music was born with the invention of the theremin and the U.S. was debating entering the trenches of World War I.

"1917" weaves these concepts together not to provide answers but to raise questions about how much things have changed -- or have not changed, as the case may be; Goetz uncovered a statement made about then-President Woodrow Wilson that seems strikingly relevant today: "One of the senators [once criticized him by saying] 'the president is driving in a car and he doesn't have directions, and he refuses to ask for directions.' You can take that out of there and put it right back in now, today."

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