A Walk Through Deep Time

Project Summary

Alistair Brickell discussing the Burgess Shale creatures

A Walk Through Deep Time is an ongoing research project which invites people to share scientific, philosophical and cultural ideas as part of a roving discussion and walk through ‘deep‘ or geologic time. The first walk event held followed a farm fenceline of 457 metres to represent 4.57 billion years, and involved astronomers, geologists, physicists, and biologists as well as matauranga Maori practitioners, philosophers, artists, teachers and a wider public.

Participants are invited to ‘bring a personal wonder’ that might in some way relate to the topics of time, energy, or ancestors.

From these events layers of voices are being added to a location-sensitive audioscape of ideas, thoughts and stories.


We exist largely within a human scale of time. Days, weeks, and deadlines – decades and generations. Rarely do we attempt to comprehend the context of the timescales of the earth, or the universe. Vast, complex, and full of unknowns, the topic requires many knowledges to come together, and envelopes important elements of different cultural world views. By walking, and talking our way through time, we can begin to build new sets of reference points.

Our sense of time is also affected by the common misrepresentation of the true scale of the history of the earth in popular science books. Due to the practicalities of limited space on the page, billions of years are often compressed and simply labelled ‘Precambrian’ for example. Giving disproportionate prominence to popular topics such as dinosaurs and the evolution of our species.

By physically experiencing the true scale of the earth’s history, this project is interested to make comprehensible this wider perspective on all life on earth, including ourselves.


Join for a Walk Event

A wide range of participants are invited to join for Walk Events which are held in conjunction with an installation of the project. The last such events were held in Sydney as part of ISEA 2013 and the Electronic art pop-ups programme. We hope to be able to bring you some shortly in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Unguided: the Audioscape

At an installation site, the location-sensitive audioscape can be experienced in your own time. Trail maps and headphones are picked up from the event meeting place, and an app can be downloaded to your phone. The app is currently available as the Deep Time iPhone app. Support is being sought to create an Android version.

How to Contribute

You are invited to add your own thoughts on the project topics to the Audioscape via a series of questions on the topics of time, energy, complexity and ancestors. You can make a recording via the smartphone app in your own time while on-location, make a recording after joining us for a walk event, or you can also listen to the work and make a recording online.


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Open Source

The walk project is being developed to be able to be held and implemented in multiple places. Do please do consider joining us for an event to see how it works, or to follow this page for updates on the project.


Previous Events & Participants

Our thanks to all of the following participants in previous walks, without whom the project would not exist.



House of Wonder, November 2011

Hamish Campbell, Geologist
Hugh Morgan, Microbiologist
Keith Thompson, Ecologist
Thomas Everth, Physicist, Programmer
Mike Dickison, Evolutionary Biologist
Alistair Brickell, Geologist and Amateur Astronomer
Ruth Irwin, Philosopher
Sue Gallagher, Art & Design Lecturer, Artist
Janine Randerson, Art & Design Lecturer, Artist
Jo Tito, Art & Design Lecturer, Artist
Jono Clark, Ecoquest
Frances Karl, Science Teacher, Hauraki Plains College
Bruce Miller, Engineer
Nelle Rose, Hive Taranaki Environment Centre
Adela Christiansen, Local Artist
Trudy Lane. The Keeper
Joy Geary & Partner, Findlay Family Researcher


Splore Festival 2012 – Tapapakanga Regional Park

John Steemson, Microbiologist
Dr. Chris Longson, Evolutionary Biologist, Ecoquest
Julian Priest, Artist
Sophie Jerram, Artist
Sonja van Kerkhoff, Artist and collaborator Sen
Splore participants


SCANZ 2013 – Owae Marae, Waitara, Taranaki

Approximately 65 SCANZ 2013 symposium delegates. In this instance three groups were formed and took separate paths or directions through a spiralling timeline, merging at different points. Each group had a guide and questions that had been posed by the creative residency group earlier were placed in topically relevant positions around the timeline for generating thoughts and discussion.


ISEA 2013 – The Rocks, Sydney

Malcolm Walter, Astrobiologist
Darren Curnoe, Evolutionary Anthropologist
Ray Norris, Astrophysicist
Margot Oliver, Chemistry expert

Artists, thinkers and the public joining from ISEA 2013.



Please contact us if you have any questions.



View A Walk Through Geologic Time in a larger map

This Google map gives an overview of where the timeline was installed across the Miranda farm property.

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