For Solitude Journal, researcher and audio producer BF reflects on their fluctuating, durational, and embodied local position in time and place, entangled with web time and linear clock time. This writing, and the audio-visual elements presented on the web version of this issue, draw from Local Time, their ongoing ecological listening project. For the past few years, they have been recording, listening, and programming creatively with their local neighbourhood in and around »›Footscray,«‹ which is in the inner Western suburbs of Naarm or »›Melbourne‹,« »›Australia‹.« Although they align sound recordings in the linear, gridded clocks of digital audio workstations and the millisecond-measures of JavaScript, they challenge temporalities of place(s) and acknowledge that contrary to white settler-colonial imaginings, places are not static locations, settings, or temporalities.

BF — Nov 30, 2022

Acknowledging Country

Offset includes sound and vision of ›Footscray‹ and surrounds in the inner West of Naarm (›Melbourne‹, ›Australia‹).

I am an uninvited guest on this stolen Country where I live, work, record and listen. The Traditional Owners of this place are the Marin Balluk peoples of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung. I also visit and sometimes record on Boon Wurrung/Bunurong Country. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and to the elders and custodians of the lands and waters where you are.

I also acknowledge the owners and custodians of the lands and waters that connect us, including a remote server on Sewee land, Turtle Island, where this work digitally occupies.


Click on each of the visuals below to mute/unmute the sound components of this piece. They have been designed for desktop and laptop viewing.

The in-built-in digital clock ticks upwards in discrete measures, counting the seconds elapsed since the recording began. I create a linear reel of digital »›tape« that, when I load it into my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), will span past the width of my computer screen.

Aligning rhythmic sounds like my footsteps to the DAW’s linear, gridded clock, I will find the beats-per-minute time signature of this recording. I will fast-forward past boredom, and find a compelling interval where I’ll slow the playback rate and highlight a clip to be replayed and replayed. I skip backward and forward through »infinitely supple« digital time.1 A day, and more, is listenable and skippable and I can see and store more time than I can comprehend. This is the field recordists’ »glut of data,« a glut of time where practitioners’ libraries swell: if played in real time, my recordings would span longer than my career.2

I divide time into discrete portions and measure its size in gigabytes and its length in days, hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds. Feeling restless or sore in the field, I become fixed on the seconds ticking upwards and tell myself to hold still for just another minute, or more. More »gold« added to the field recording library.3 But the homogenous regularity of that accumulating clock time cannot measure the experiential duration of my attention that I register more expansively when I’m not watching the clock.4

Manipulating and presenting field recordings on the web, I write JavaScript code – some of which uses the Date object which stamps »a single moment in time«5 measured in milliseconds since the ›epoch‹ of 00:00:00 midnight on January 1, 1970 (also known as the Unix timestamp). This millisecond-measured object is parsed into a string to write something like this:

Sun Aug 14 2022 11:37:25 GMT+1000 (Australian Eastern Standard Time)6

That time string is localized relative to the time information provided by my computer. Or, if I publish this code on the web, it’s localized to the time information provided by whatever device is accessing the webpage. In other words, your device knows where you are and what time zone that places you in. To display my local time relative to yours, I manipulate Date. I wrestle with the problems of working with timezones7 and use JavaScript methods such as getTimezoneOffset, which tells me the difference between a date evaluated in UTC versus the local timezone.8 I find our relative temporal offset from the zeroed »middle« timezone standard UTC+00.

Michelle Bastian explains that although clock time measures the length of a day, »atomic clocks cannot synchronize precisely with the rotation of the Earth, since this rotation is variable.«9 So, UTC or Coordinated Universal Time is a negotiated version of clock time, constructed from solar time, atomic time and the ongoing offset of »leap seconds.« Bastian says that »telling the time« is not a factual description, but rather a performative act. She proposes a move away from established conventions of reading mechanical or digital time as objective measures, in favor of a broader definition of the clock:

A device that signals change in order for its users to maintain an awareness of, and thus be able to coordinate themselves with, what is significant to them.10

Digital time on recording devices, DAWs and on the web are tools of measuring and manipulating clock time, and they are devices I use in performative acts of »telling time.« But my body is the clock with which I measure local place, enacting Donna Haraway’s »view from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring and structured body.«11 I trace Footscray through repeated movement and I sense place-temporalities through my view from a body via hunger, thirst, tiredness, restlessness. Some rhythmic actions like digging and walking are repetitive and rhythmic and can become percussive and seductively constant. I entrain myself to place; my footfall, heartbeat, breath, and sleep are synced to the night/day, on- and off-peak, dawn and evening chorus and seasonal rhythms.

I know »when« I am by noticing changing colors of skies and plants, arrivals and departures of fledgling birds, invoking Glen Morrison who says »spaces become better known as places as they become ›time-thickened‹.«12 In this time-thickening of space into place into neighborhood, I am a »rhythmanalyst«13 attentive to place-rhythms that are paradoxically both ever-changing through processes of becoming, but also consistent and stabilized by steady patterns of flow.14

My listenings in place intensify my noticing of »background« ambience, the repetitive,15 rhythmic sounds; familiar, in the composition of place, this is the percussive rhythm to which my everyday is entrained. I sometimes treat place as »nature« which, when viewed as a »substance« might appear »comfortingly present, endless, normal, straight.«16 I reach for audio-gathering equipment. I return to familiar places, and wait, and hope for a repeat performance, sometimes revealing an extractive white colonialist instinct that is »possessive and protective about asset accumulation and ownership.«17 Place eludes18 my desire for capture and control, and I leave with an empty memory card.

The recording device displays its void:


Zero-zero. In linear temporal media these zeroes signal a beginning, the null-duration of audio-visuals not-yet-experienced. On a digital clock: midnight, the »middle« of the night, ending one day and beginning the next. On a recording device: data accumulation not-yet begun. On a digital media playhead: a paused start. A frontier zero time punctuation in the ideology of the roll-out of linear time.19

Cyclical, rhythmic place »has nothing to do with good old reliable constancy«20 and does not conform to linear expectations. »Nature« is not a »stable background« to human life, a confused misconception reinforced by Western cultural concepts of an abstract clock like UTC which – despite ecological crises – »problematically projects an unending future no matter the context.«21 Places in »Australia« are not static locations or settings. Rather, »these are places that are best understood as endless events … fluid or airy or ethereal and constantly altering.«22 In white settler-colonial imaginings, »authentic Australian identity« is »set against the great silence of the bush«, but »just as the land was not ›empty‹ nor ›belonging to no-one‹, neither was the soundscape silent.«23

The English colonization of Australia was premised on »uninhabited,« »empty land« deemed »Terra Nullius«: land without signs of ownership, occupation and government visible to the colonizers. It developed into an effort to permanently extinguish indigenous people: their bodies, identities, cultures, languages; their knowledges. Genocide.24

My generational connections to this continent are rooted in English and Irish convict-settler ancestry based on theft and possession that has been »jealously guarded by white Australians«25 while »the white body was the norm and measure for identifying who could belong.«26 My white, colonizing body should not be the measurement scale of this place. Reflecting on the extractivism inherent in settler-colonial formations of land, Dan Tout reminds us that settler-colonies are premised on »the foundational projection of permanent territorial sovereignty;«27 settlers arrive uninvited and then outstay their welcome, if they were ever welcomed at all. Home is not permanent, and a claim made on place doesn’t grant ongoing access. Movement is vital to place-knowledge: »Country calls for activity; it needs rousing engagement more than it needs settlement.«28

I do my best to enact »rousing engagement« through acts of care and active participation in place – led by listening. I try to reject and resist extractive and accumulative impulses. A library of field recordings will always be incomplete, I cannot fully represent or capture place, and I cannot grasp for an »ending« where the timeline of place-listening is complete.

Listening to and with place, I notice more-than-human temporalities that elude measurement, prediction, expectation, control. A frustrating escalation of pigeon coos that vibrate from all sides. Worms »squelch and schlurp«29 when I’m turning the compost. Rustling wetland reeds. A thrilling portamento of a faraway currawong. A drone of traffic and machine diggers. The crack of a seed pod and the scatter of its insides. My hesitating breaths. I take up Anna Tsing’s assemblage thinking:

Patterns of unintentional coordination develop in assemblages. To notice such patterns means watching the interplay of temporal rhythms and scales in the divergent lifeways that gather.30

Imagining futures outside capitalism’s monodirectional and cumulative »progress stories,« Tsing turns instead toward »temporal polyphony« of third nature: »open-ended assemblages of entangled ways of life, as these coalesce in coordination across many kinds of temporal rhythms.«31 I continue assembling temporal rhythms between body-listening, place-listening and digital-listening. I sow seeds. I feel elongated evenings as seasons shift toward blooming flowers. I watch a waxing moon. I dig with worms. I gather seeds. These listenings cannot be felt in the web browser. But my use of web coding informs my understandings of place, and vice-versa. Moon phases can be measured in fractions. Sunset time can be checked as a percentage difference from the 24-hour hundred percent. These clock time measures are outside my body’s measures, but they facilitate me putting shapes around my listenings. I try to coalesce varied and sometimes contradictory, sometimes complementary senses of time, allowing for forms of knowledge beyond measurement but within embodied comprehension.

Here and now, it’s early afternoon. My lunch is digesting and making me feel sluggish. I feel a slight pain in my neck. Out my lounge-room window, I can see large white and gray clouds blocking out the formerly blue sky, signaling the rain that I know is forecast for this evening. My nose and eyes feel itchy with road dust and pollen. I perceive time through my body, an in- and external »offset« that places me here and now.

Here and now, read with the JavaScript method, is 1662688115662 milliseconds (since the Unix timestamp »epoch«) – a number I cannot properly read or understand, but I can manipulate. By the time you read this, millions or billions of milliseconds will have accumulated and been added to that number. To program JavaScript events, I calculate time in thousands: 60,000 milliseconds per minute, 3,600,000 per hour. I slowly backtrack with my arrow key to trace each zero, counting aloud as I code: one-two-three zeroes per thousand milliseconds for one second, itself a measure of time I can only fallibly measure as a verbally-counted »Mississippi.«

To check my code, I refresh the browser window and the scripted sequence I programmed resets to its frontier zero – an epoch window.onload event. I listen again to the sound clips and rewatch the videos and graphics I’ve programmed. They loop. They collide. They repeat. They are familiar but become uncanny through their looping repetition. I have hidden – as I often do – the default appearance of the HTML Audio Object, which would usually display a play/pause interface, a linear representation of the media file, and a timestamp of its currentTime elapsed in playback and its total duration. By obfuscating these interactive playback controls, I cannot watch the seconds-elapsed-since-00:00:00 counter. Watching and listening in this browser window, I return to embodied durational attention.

While digital sound’s linearity and web time’s millisecond-measures can feel limiting, these tools also open possibilities for expansive and cyclical listenings. In web playback algorithms driven by clock time, in turn driven by my embodied listenings in place, I experience assemblages of time, sound and place – Tsing’s »unintentional coordination« – that sit outside of measurable progress and accumulation.

Temporal assemblages are unfolding knowledges of time that I cannot fully know or perceive. Again, I entrain myself to rhythms of place. I listen.

It’s now tomorrow, and it’s morning. The ground is wet from the promises met by yesterday’s clouds.

I continue listening and attending to my now().

BF is a fledgling. They garden, listen, and learn on Marin Balluk Wurundjeri Country.

  1. John Potts: The New Time and Space. London
    2015, p. 15.

  2. Kelly Servick: »Eavesdropping on Ecosystems,« in: Science 343 (6175) (2014), p. 837.

  3. Sound artist and field recordist Camilla Hannan encourages producers to »wait a couple of minutes longer than you’re comfortable … because that’s when you get the gold,«, in: »Season 2, Episode ›It’s All in the Detail,‹« in: Audiocraft, 2017,

  4. Henri Bergson: Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. Duration and Simultaneity. Indianapolis, New York, and Kansas City 1913/1965, p. 57.

  5. »Date – JavaScript.« MDN Web Docs. 2022.

  6. Since I began writing this, I am now in Australian Eastern Daylight Time, or GMT+1100 – a seasonal temporal offset that places me further out of sync with local place.

  7. Tom Scott, »The Problem with Time and Timezones,« in: Computerphile, 2013,

  8. MDN, »Date.Prototype.GetTimezoneOffset() – JavaScript,« MDN Web Docs, 2022,

  9. Michelle Bastian: »Fatally Confused: Telling the Time in the Midst of Ecological Crises,« in: Environmental Philosophy 9 (1), 2012, p. 30.

  10. Ibid, p. 31.

  11. Donna Haraway: »Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,« in: Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): p. 575,, p. 589.

  12. Glenn Morrison: »Perceiving the World on a Walk,« in: Writing Home, 2017, p. 15.

  13. Henri Lefebvre: Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. London and New York 2004, p. 19.

  14. Tim Edensor: »Introduction: Thinking about Rhythm and Space,» in: Geographies of Rhythm: Nature, Place, Mobilities and Bodies, 2010, p. 3.

  15. Such as the »repetition effect,« described by Jean-François Augoyard and Henry Torgue in Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds (Montreal 2005), p. 90, as a »phenomena of return, reprise, and enrichment by accumulation« when perceiving the reappearance of identical sound occurrences.

  16. Timothy Morton: Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. New York 2016, p. 56.

  17. Aileen Moreton-Robinson: The White Possessive, Minneapolis 2016, p. 67.

  18. I continue to be informed by the illustrative accounts of environmental agency and »kin,« such as in the work of AM Kanngieser and Zoe Todd: »From Environmental Case Study To Environmental Kin Study,« in: History and Theory 59, no. 3 (2020): pp. 385–93, and AM Kanngieser, »Listening as Taking-Leave (Listening as Method),« in: The Seedbox, 2021,

  19. Deborah Bird Rose: »Reflections on the Zone of the Incomplete« in: Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World, edited by Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal, Cambridge MA 2017, pp. 147–8.

  20. Morton: 2016, p. 10.

  21. Bastian: 2012, p. 39.

  22. Gibson: 2015, p. 22.

  23. Jane Belfrage: »The Great Australian Silence: Knowing, Colonising and Gendering Acoustic Space« (La Trobe University, 1993),, p. 80.

  24. Ibid, p. 6.

  25. Moreton-Robinson: 2016, p. 7.

  26. Ibid, p. 5.

  27. Dan Tout: »Juukan Gorge Destruction: Extractivism and the Australian Settler-Colonial Imagination,« in: Arena, 2020,

  28. Gibson, 2015, p. 22.

  29. Norie Neumark imitates her and Maria Miranda’s worm companions in »The Voices of Wormy Compost: Embodiment, Affect and More-than-Sound,« in: More-than-Sound (YouTube, November 12, 2021),

  30. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing: The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Princeton and Oxford 2015, p. 23.

  31. Ibid, p. viii.