It’s common enough to be obsessed with time–its speed, its inevitable passage, all that grim stuff. Less common, though, is being obsessed with telling time, like the Swedish design studio Humans Since 1982. Per Emanuelsson and Bastian Bischoff are fascinated by clocks, and timepieces dominate much of their young practice. It began with Clock Clock, a digital time display made out of 24 reprogrammed clocks. Then, they moved on to rewiring traditional Swiss clocks. This month in Dubai, Emanuelsson and Bischoff have unveiled the end-all-be-all of timepieces: A Million Times.
The name is a bit misleading–A Million Times is actually 300 analogue clocks, not a million. But the effect is still staggering. The installation is more than 10 feet long, stretching across the space like a wall. Each clock contains two separate motors, driving the hour and minute hand independently. These motors are wired to a central machine, where the designers can control the movement of each hand, creating patterns and words.
Telling the time is besides the point–this is the clock as a tool, a medium, a brushstroke. “[We wanted to] ‘liberate’ the clock from its solely pragmatic existence,” Emanuelsson tells Co.Design. “Shaping out this hidden quality without denying a clock’s primary purpose was our goal.”
Unfortunately, A Million Times is a one-off–and it’s not for sale (though theoretically, you could build one yourself). But according to Emanuelsson, Humans Since 1982 is now working on a smaller version that’ll be available commercially.