Severance – Separation from Time

In 2014, Mark Fisher in Ghosts of My Life [1]Fisher, M., 2014. Ghosts Of My Life. Alresford (UK): Zero books. wrote about the idea of a pining for ‘lost futures’- the idea that during the Modern era we had a collective vision of the future, but as postmodernity removed the arrow of time by always looking back and reproducing, remodelling and reinterpreting the past, we have lost our collective future. We are temporally dislocated or disconnected or separated from Time… A chronological alienation. It is the missing connection with Time that deeply pervades our culture.

The Apple TV+ series Severance has a constantly shifting representation of time. The production and costume design have used influences from the 1930s on and we never quite settle on one particular era…

…we are neither stuck in a past…

…nor stuck in a future…

It feels contemporary- the dialogue, the humour, the characters’ personalities all feel ‘now’ – but visually it could also be set in a retrofuturistic 1980s.

This operates in a similar way to ‘crackle’ on a record. Again Mark Fisher, in Ghosts of My Life, said about crackle in songs, “Crackle makes us aware that we are listening to a time that is out of joint; it won’t allow us to fall into the illusion of presence.” It’s now, but not now. Then, but not then. The design in Severance is visual crackle.


1 Fisher, M., 2014. Ghosts Of My Life. Alresford (UK): Zero books.