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These TT log extracts are reprinted with permission of TT20, who has returned to their starting point seemingly of sound mind. TT20 001 – Phoenix AZ – 04/04/2023 – The Verdict “A thousand years?! Seriously?” My expert shadow didn’t flinch. “Hey, is that even safe?” I insisted. “None of this is,” was the cold reply. “You know that.” Right now, I need someone that is good with people, that will help me put my mind at ease. Our shadows are time travel experts, not psychologists, coaches, or councillors. They are participatory observers that follow each one of the 20 time travellers’ journeys, from the time of their selection for the TT20 programme until the end of our lives. The end of our lives, whenever that will be. I’ve signed up for something that will never ever go away again. I will be turned inside out over and over again; I will be constantly put in front of a mirror to ask myself ‘am I still the same.’ I am going to see a lot more of my shadow, Moana, than I already have if I return alive from my displacement (that’s what shecalls it, travel is just a metaphor she says). She will be there for every meaningful moment of my life to observe the effects of time travel on my personality, my emotions, my reasoning, my sense of time, my operational memory, my functioning overall and my physical state. All the screening, the psychological tests, the physical exams of the past 11 months, all the effort that I have put into closure with loved ones in case I do not return, the sheer surrealism of the whole idea, was just the beginning. Moana tells me all this effort helped the programme to decide mine was the right profile to attempt to bridge a millennium. She reassures me I have the best chance among any of us to return with my sanity intact. I don’t even have to ask; she volunteers this chance is certainly less than 50%. My shadow doesn’t mince words: “Just get used to the idea that you might never find your orientation in time back.” It sounds like I am precipitating the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. I fear being lost in time like my mum and grandma before me. TT20 014 – Phoenix AZ – 18/04/2023 – Breaking the Rules To be involved in this experiment a person must be utterly weird. The time travellers, the expert shadows, the assistants, technicians, doctors, historians and futurists, all of us who accepted to work on this impossible mission started from deviance. And still all of us have had to do a lot of unlearning for our dealings with unthought futures -- especially the hard scientists. Time travel has no mechanics, no arrow of time, being in time has no mathematics, it is fluid, it is multidimensional, it is crazy. The order of things, cause and effect, are simple misconceptions. Today Moana and I talked about the geolocation I had requested on my original application form as the destination of my displacement. I wanted to go to Arizona but now we know when -- what time -- I will be visiting, we must get more precise about where -- what place -- I will be for my 72 hours away. “You’re greedy” Moana said when I requested to visit three different places. “We don’t know if there will be transport available where you are going and the distance between the canyon, the mesa and the gas station is just too big to walk in the time you have.”

I couldn’t choose. I didn’t want to. I protested. “I have to bring together the past and future of all these places.” Moana understood. “We’ll have to cheat,” she said. “You’ll have to be displaced between these places and that means time displacement too. You will only be able to move forward. At noon on the first day will be your first hop, it won’t even take milliseconds, but you will only arrive at midnight the same day. Twelve hours later you can hop again, and you will arrive at midday of the third day to be sucked back to your time of origin at midnight. This was simple calculus, but I got confused. Thoughts of Cinderella for whom the magic stopped at midnight too, swam through my mind. I began to stammer something about making sure not to wear glass slippers. Moana was unfazed. “In other words,” Moana said, “going three places in that manner, will cost you a full 24 hours. You won’t be able to hide that you didn’t spend the whole of the planned duration at your destination and you will run three times the risk of losing yourself. Most likely we will both be kept for an additional year in the debriefing zone after you get back.” I nodded and Moana began to fix the additional displacements in my programming. With every line of code, my brain and stomach felt more like I was floating in time already, which was of course exactly what was happening. TT20 30 – Grand Canyon AZ – 04/05/3023 – Beauty It is pitch black out here, lots of stars but no moon. My goodness, I am the same. I can’t tell any difference between myself a 1000 years ago and myself today. Or is there just that nanosecond between myself, on the even surface of the bright white departure platform, and myself here on the warm rocky surface at the rim of the Grand Canyon? My instructions say I first have to test my memory. What am I doing here, how did I get here? Ok, I know these things. Why did I choose this geo-location? Yes, I know this too, Its because when I saw this place the first time when I was just 12 years old, I was disappointed. Not that the surroundings were a let-down, not that this place wasn’t as grand or as beautiful as I had hoped. No, I was dismayed at my own lack of awe. I felt I should have been overwhelmed with emotions, moved to tears, I should have wanted to write poetry about it. Would this time be different even if the Canyon isn’t? There are no signs of human settlements, no fires, no lights, no airplanes overhead. I hear coyote. I hear owls. I hear the river down below. That means there’s water in the Colorado, probably more than there was 10 centuries ago. Maybe I should have asked Moana to send me to Hoover Dam too. Probably there’s not much of it left, the flow of the river is free from its influence. I am going to sleep a bit, what else is there to do? As the first tentative rays of sun touch my face, birds are chirping and insects buzzing. There’s a fox. A group of deer. Some lizards. I see the red, orange, brown, white and grey rock formations, their colours swelling with the growing light. I walk to the edge of the cliff and do the breathing exercises I was taught to ground myself before I look down into the depth. Yes! The river is happy! It is wide and streams rapidly, sparkling, glimmering, curving and curling. My heart sings as I walk down to get closer to the water. […] TT20 31 – Chloride AZ – 05/05/3023 – Desert Glass This is where the old gas station used to be. The high desert still smells the same. In the dark the tumbleweed that rolls right past me is like a ghost. It makes me want to go to where the cemetery used to be. I can discern four rectangular shapes. The bodies of three soldiers and a painter remain here in sealed solid lead encasements. I tell myself not to be buried here later (well, earlier really). The daylight has arrived allowing me to collect enough pieces of the beautiful purple desert glass lying around everywhere and mark and decorate the remaining graves with the shards.

TT20 32 – Black Mountain foothills AZ – 06/05/3023 – The Mesa’s Present Here at the tabletop hill that I once owned (and where I come from, still do), the succulents, cacti, and shrubs are more numerous than before perhaps. Our neighbours’ shacks and trailers have left no trace and there are no tire marks anywhere, nothing is left of the fences or the mile marker that once stood on this land. Still no other sounds than those of animals, of wind and the stones slipping under my feet. I am beginning to feel like I might be the only human in this present. Yes, this is the present, certainly not the future, not even a future, it is today. For the mesa this is its very own age-old now. […]

I found the petroglyphs; they seem more visible than ever. How did that happen? And I found a note on a dry skin that could have come from a drum: “Dear elder, welcome! We saw you coming.” I am not alone here after all. __________________________________________________________________________________

Maya Van Leemput Maya Van Leemput is UNESCO Chairholder on Images of the Futures and Co-creation for Open Time at Erasmus Brussels University of Applied Sciences and Arts. She pursues transdisciplinary and co-creative futures research on media, culture, arts, (crosscultural) communication, development, cities, science and technology in society, and polylogue(s). Maya mixes futures research with media, art, and design approaches, a.o. with her long term independent project Agence Future in collaboration with visual artist Bram Goots and many others. Van Leemput is a Fellow of the World Futures Studies Federation and the Centre of Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, serves onthe APF board of directors and is a founding member of the interdisciplinary visual arts collective OST and the Plurality University.

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