Clocks reveal the human aspect of time

The Clock - Christian Marclay

The Clock - Christian Marclay

As part of London Design Festival the Royal College of Arts put on an exhibition of products for the newly formed Design Products Collection. The reason I’m posting about this now is because one of the products in the exhibition was an intriguing clock. I was reminded of it because of the stir being caused by Christian Marclay’s clock at White Cube.

Marclay’s clock is a functional timepiece constructed from fragments of films which depict clocks or particular times of day. It pulls together a huge range of narratives, settings and moods into a flowing 24 hour timeline. Chronology and continuity gets flung out of the window and, as the artist himself told The Economist: “If I asked you to watch a clock tick, you would get bored quickly, but there is enough action in this film to keep you entertained, so you forget the time, but then you’re constantly reminded of it.”

The clock this all reminded me of from First Hand was designed by Hye-Yeon Park. It’s called ‘In-betweening clock’ and is displays the time as a series of numbers on the screen. Rather than snapping from digit to digit, the numbers morph from one to the next.

In-betweening Clock - Hye-Yeon Park (2010)

In-betweening Clock - Hye-Yeon Park (2010)

I think both pieces tap into human aspects of time, exposing something of the experience of time passing. Marclay’s is more obvious, using as it does footage of human creations and interactions but Park’s simple prototype for the In-betweening clock reveals time’s flow – the uncertainty and inexactness of the ever-changing ‘now’ – via its morphing digital display.

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