It’s remarkable that despite having been outmoded by seven-segment displays nearly 50 years ago, traditional circular clock faces still hold so much appeal. For example, last week Apple shelled out $21 million to the Swiss Railway Service to license Hans Hilfiker’s 1944 railway clock design for iOS products. Chalk it up to a love affair with skeuomorphism or the lure of Swiss design, if you want--the steady hands of the circular clock remain a universal symbol of the forward march of time.
Which is why artists seem to love experimenting with them. Salvador Dalí was melting clocks half a century ago, but plenty of contemporary designers have twisted their analog arms into carefully articulated digital displays. Among them are Per Emanuelsson and Bastian Bischoff (a.k.a. Human Since 1982), the German-Swedish duo behind the Clock Clock.
This 50-inch-long digital timepiece is made up of 24 individual analog clocks. Each bank of six clocks forms an individual number in the seven-segment system, creating what is essentially a hacked-together digital display made out of analog parts. The piece “re-contextualizes time in a mix of old and new, analogue and digital,” explain Emanuelsson and Bischoff. "[It foregrounds] the choreography that takes place between the minutes.” The piece reminds us of a more practical take-off on Christiaan Postma’s Clock (2008), in which dozens of analog arms were programmed to form the time in writing.
David Cox, an Australian engineer, programmed and built the prototype, which debuted in 2009. But this week, Clock Clock will be on view at Antwerp’s Victor Hunt Gallery, along with a selection of other stuff from Human Since 1982. The exhibition marks the commercial launch of Clock Clock, available online--albeit for an undisclosed sum. Time is money, y’all.