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  • 02.06.13

Watch: Dancing Neon Lights Build A Giant Digital Clock

Imagine a $15,000 clock radio that works by pulleys, motors, and Arduino.

We have phones that sync with the world’s most accurate counters. But there’s something special about watching time pass on a clock or a watch–something that ticks–that’s stopped digital time from conquering analog just yet.

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CL:OC, by Grosse 8, is a light installation that sits smack dab in the middle of these trends. On one hand, it’s a giant, glowing, digital-clock display that you could read in the dark. On the other, you can actually hear it whir, as 28 motors drive a complex pulley system to rearrange cold cathode tubes to the proper time each minute. Creator Stephan Müller describes the digital-analog effect as “something between 0 and 1.”

“We think the digital part is hidden behind the analog one. You see the light, hear the motors rotating, and the cables move by coincidence on the floor,” he tells Co.Design. “As the lights pulse, you are able to watch as light tries to reach the other side of the tube. It gets thinner and thinner and ends in the middle of the tube.”


Apparently, it’s quite hypnotic in person. The tubes actually rearrange randomly each time, creating an unpredictable effect that can keep audiences watching the time tick away for 20 minutes. (I’d believe it, especially if I had a few glasses of free art-show wine in me.) But interestingly enough, Müller says his team’s intention wasn’t to create art but to make a “useful” light installation that thinks beyond the limits of the screen. It’s hard to imagine the project scaling with more bulbs and complex characters (both are possible), but that’s entirely the point: We can’t imagine it because it’d be so incredible. So somebody should build it.

See more here.

[Hat tip: designboom]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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