Nautilus

The Ends of Time, in Art and Science

In Gallery 919, in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a giant breathing machine. Its creator, William Kentridge, calls it “the elephant,” after Charles Dickens’s description of factory machines that move “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.” On the walls surrounding the elephant are five different video channels, full of metronomes, maps, springs, people in white coats, stars.

The installation, called

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