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Between Mean Time

Felix Kalmenson, still from Between Mean Time showing Tjipetir Gutta-Percha Plantation and Factory (now surrounded by palm oil plantations), Cipetir, West Java, Indonesia, 2017
Felix Kalmenson traces the story of gutta-percha, a natural thermoplastic resin extracted from plants native to Singapore and Malaysia which was used for the coating of submarine telegraph cables. In making possible the first near-instantaneous planetary-scale communication systems, gutta-percha contributed to the expansion and maintenance of colonial power. Exploring local ecologies, as well as the histories of use, trade and eventual depletion of gutta-percha, the essay maps the temporality of technological and capitalist development against the metabolic cycles of nature.