How Soon is Now

by Frances Williams

The Smiths ‘how soon is now’ (1985) is often heard reprised in club mixes, as background music and in advertising. It seems timeless, recognized out of time but also in the present and far removed and abstracted from its plaintive origin. Like Jackie annuals, instagram and school disco, fragments of a past repeated make their appearances in the present as affective.

Agamben refers to the contemporary as one who firmly holds their gaze in their own time, not to perceive the light, but so as to perceive its darkness. Derrida’s concept of hauntology refers to and the past being present but not dead or alive. Deleuzian concept of time is as non-chronological and manifold, where the modalities of time are the synthesis of habit, memory and the new. These ideas are suggestive of gestures of looking away to the past, present and future.

How may this appear in contemporary visual arts practice without nostalgia or irony? In what ways could a performance related arts practice embody these gestures and draw on these philosophical ideas of time?

This performance presentation performs gestures of looking away to the past, present and future using the vehicle of Fran’s People -Freeform Interpretation to draw on ideas of time; being out of time, uni-directionality, paradox and disjointedness.


I am an artist and PhD research student at Falmouth University, Cornwall. My practice-based research uses performance to investigate the gesture of looking away. My recent research activities have involved collaboration with artist Ros Bason, using the vehicle of Fran’s People –Freeform Interpretation in performances at The Exchange Gallery, Penzance, Cornwall, UK and The Independent School of Art Sessions at the Shipwrights, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK as well as a recent performance presentation on the publication Diagrams for Seriality by Dr Neil Chapman at Copy Press Books, Housmann’s Bookshop in Kings Cross, London.