The Human Clock is a durational performance installation modelled on the appearance of the digital clock (16:46:07). A performer animates this simple machine using only her own embodied sense of time passing. In a play between the digital (image) and analogue (manual) presentation of time, she labours to turn time manually, literally with her hands. Paradoxically, in order to keep up with metered time, the performer must continually negotiate the difference between the sign of the numbers (the value it denotes in metered time) and the time taken by the action of turning the numbers. In particular time “lost” in the progressively more complicated manoeuvres of turning the double-figure minute (e.g. 12:09:59 to 12:10:00), the hour (12:59:59 to 13:00:00) and double-figure hour (19:59:59 to 20:00:00), must be anticipated by adjusting the rate of the seconds. In this sense the actions of anticipating time consumes attention; rather than enabling the projection of a future, we are constantly and perversely caught in the labour of time as a constantly looping experience of time disappearing.
The Human Clock is part of my “time series” that explore embodied experiences of time. I am interested in the ubiquity of clocks as background, and time-space parameters encoded in different performance contexts, particularly since the average length of time spent looking at an artwork in a gallery context is about 3 seconds. By working with the clock playfully- as performance- I want to foreground a complicated relationship with time, labour and performance. The work- as object-cannot exist outside of time and strives for continuous plateau, yet a dramaturgy is projected by the clock-watchers.
The Human Clock is typically accurate to within a minute of GMT and is performed in relay by a small team.
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This work was initially commissioned by AIR at Central St. Martins and Islington Borough Council as part of the A Million Minutes project in 2013. Together with 10 Minutes:live, this work was part of the solo exhibition 8640 Minutes (8640 minutes being the duration of the project).
The Human Clock has been performed by: Elisa Vassena, Fiona Millward, Elodie Escarmelle, Iris Chan and Janine Harrington.