Art and Time Travel Collide

The following is a guest post by Angela Wagner who went to the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles to cover this story. 

Time Travel. We’ve all seen the movies, tried to wrap our minds around the concept, fantasized about the possibilities, maybe even passively questioned the logistics. For most of us though this is a fleeting distraction from the here and now, before we snap back to present tense. But for Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch their post film debates on the feasibility of bending the space-time continuum became a bit of an obsession, specifically the ways in which the actual science was manipulated for the convenience of narrative form. Their fixation turned into research that turned into the highly original book, So You Created A Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel.

Continued After The Jump.

To commemorate the release of “the world’s first and only field manual for the intrepid time traveler on the go,” the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles is currently hosting a time travel themed group exhibition. The opening reception included the requisite amount of cool people to let you know that you are indeed at an art opening, a video game demo of Super T.I.M.E. Force (a throw back to gaming days of yore), a plethora of kitschy pop culture saturated art and a book signing with the authors themselves.

Hornshaw and Hurwitch (who’s friendship goes all the way back to the Midwest, and the fourth grade), are both active writers— Phil writes about video games and apps, and Nick, according to his twitter profile: writes, directs and thinks — but this is their first published book.

What exactly is the book? So You Created a Wormhole is sort of an introductory text to time travel for the chronologically curious — i.e. what is Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and how does it relate to apes imprisoning people? The book also acts as a survival guide for your more experienced traveler — offering tips on what to wear, what to bring, and how to react to a confrontation should you travel to Medieval Britain. All of this is framed using examples from the common culture of Hollywood movies. So basically, it’s like a physics 101 textbook and a Frommer’s Travel Guide as experienced by Bill & Ted after they just got their collective asses whipped into shape by Bear Grylls… but hopefully no one has to resort to drinking a cup of their own urine for this adventure.

Nick claims that, “Time travel is the greatest.” adding “Do it! Just don’t do it like an idiot.” How do you not be an idiot in these un-chartered adventures? Read the book (the first chapter is currently available on Facebook). But one key point in not behaving moronically that the authors want to stress, is the importance of not attempting, in any way, to actually alter history when traveling as a temporal tourist.

Whether its going back and helping your former weakling self get reckless on your adolescent nemesis tag team style, or trying to prevent historical tragedies of greater significance like the great depression or the four year prime time run of ALF — your actions may create a paradox with unforeseen consequences, one of which could be the elimination of your own personal existence. Think Butterfly Effect, and then try to forget it has anything at all to do with Ashton Kutcher.

Much like in the book itself, lively conversations were had all throughout the evening that centered largely on films from this sci-fi subgenre. Both Nick and Phil cite their favorite time travel movie as being Back to the Future II; even though the series of hijinks that ensued in this franchise is exactly the type of space-time chaos their manual is attempting to prevent.

As far as the other attendees go, there were discussions regarding the obvious celluloid choices, more on the adventures of Marty McFly, Terminator 1 through… however many they’ve made at this point, Planet of the Apes, and the like. Then there were the more subversive choices, Donnie Darko, Primer, Hot Tub Time Machine (a prompt met with much resistance) and the Herbie the Love Bug series… a bit off topic, but not really, according to a man who makes his living driving rare cars and blogging about them (yep, that’s a job) who stands behind these as the greatest car-centric films of all time. So now you know.

But getting back to the future… of art (sorry, I had to), the gallery featured an array of original pieces that explored quite a few common tropes: robots, video games, Abe Lincoln and apparently the only car of the future, the DeLorean.

A crowd and growing Internet favorite (thanks to the blog-o-sphere and i09) was/ is Jude Buffum’s “Jurassic President” triptych. Paintings of pixelated faux video game stills that pitch former American presidents against history’s evil tyrants in a battle for the present, Mortal Combat style—picture of George Washington kicking the shit out of Adolf Hitler… while they’re both riding dinosaurs. Obviously.

Other highlights included: a sculpted time traveling vehicle that may or may not succeed in its intended purpose, but definitely successfully works as a stroller; a series of iconic movie stills recreated with Lego people; a hand sewn portrait of honest Abe made out of layers of felt, his lapel stuck with a button representing the football team of San Dimas High (The “Excellent Adventure” alma matter); and a display of the evenings celebrated text throughout various stages of wear and decay — one even frozen in a block of ice, for wayward future explorers to find and marvel at centuries from now.

The massive crowd seemed equally stoked for the book, the art, the evenings “event” (open bar) and time travel itself. But if the laws of physics prevented your personal attendance, you don’t need a blue police box to retroactively be a part of this action — iam8bit harnesses the future of commerce by making all works, including signed copies of the book, available for purchase online and the actual 3-D gallery show is up through 4/29. Though that window may seem brief, So You Created A Wormhole will be available for your education and enjoyment throughout the history of time.

And now a few words from the writers of So You Created A Wormhole:

On time-traveling in film…

“Best time travel movie — Back to the Future. Even Carl Sagan said so. Back to the Future II, specifically, kind of does a great job of dealing with alternate timelines, interacting with your past self, avoiding paradoxes. Sure, the movie takes some liberties — like if you travel to the future you’re not going to run into your older self, since time travel is basically stepping into a box and vanishing for 30 years. But like I said before, you have to allow for some liberties to be taken for the sake of movies. In reality, when Marty McFly stopped his dad from getting hit by the car in the first movie, he probably would have just ceased to exist right there. And then you have 90 minutes of George drinking milkshakes and reading comics and getting wailed on by Biff.” – Phil Hornshaw

“The thing that’s great about time travel stories is that they’re so versatile. Another movie that gets things right is Primer, which only hardcore time travel enthusiasts ever talk about. When you reach that level of accuracy, things just get confusing. It’s not a bad movie, it just doesn’t have the entertainment value of, say, The Terminator, or Time Bandits. Ultimately, even if a movie uses time travel incorrectly, it’s fun to explore. This is why we wanted the book to make people laugh — time travel is awesome, but it can also be pretty absurd. It’s no fun to be plot police, but it is fun to examine how time travel is used, can be used, and the different ways you might implode the Universe with your butterfly-crushing mistakes.” – Nick Hurwitch

On how the project began…

“We started working on The Time Travel Guide after a lifetime of watching movies in which people kind of fudged the time travel. I mean, you have to take some artistic license with it — it’s theoretical physics and it gets confusing. But lots of time travel movies have these sort of glaring plot holes that people have to gloss over for the sake of the story, and we got to the point where we felt like a lot of people got it wrong. I was on the phone one night with Nick, ranting about a movie, and we just kind of came to the conclusion: we should write a book. And then we went a little crazy with it.” – Phil Hornshaw

On what comes next…
“Up next we’re kicking around a new idea for a book, which isn’t so much top secret as it is incomplete. We’re also busy in Film World: we plan to make Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog-style webisodes (minus the Sing-Along part) based on So You Created A Wormhole. And we’ve got a time travel drama pilot we’re re-tooling, which we actually conceived at the same time as this book.” – Nick Hurwitch

You can learn more about Nick, Phil, the book, and time travel by checking out their website here.


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