Clock Piece: An Exercise in Attuned Time Keeping
After Laundry Clock (Barbara Huber, 2011) and Ear Piece (Pauline Oliveros, 1998)
Note: for description of the Laundry Clock, see the description in the “Wind and Time” exhibition section
Prompted by Barbara Huber’s Laundry Clock i immersed myself into reading Vibrant Matter (2010) by Jane Bennett. Bennett’s proposal to engage oneself “with vibrant matter and lively things”, which Barbara Huber was doing in her Laundry Clock, immediately made me think of the deep listening practice developed by American composer Pauline Oliveros (2005). Oliveros developed her verbally notated piece to enhance listening and sounding skills of the practitioner. But what made me do Huber’s Laundry Clock, in which her aim was to provide “the connection of wind and laundry” (Huber, 2012). The artificiality of an assemblage of cloth, conductive threads, fabric, Arduino breadboard, resistors, and computer script (Huber, 2011) that make up the laundry clock points to the assemblage character of any time-measuring tool. Laundry clock exposes vivid instability, in Bennett’s words: vibrating of matter. Naturally, the question arises: in what way can one think of time as matter? How does time materialize? Skip to the fifth point of Clock Piece and let your mind and senses wander. Do you remember the last time interval you spent before this question? Indeed, you do, you can tell what an instant of time it was. What comes up in your mind though? Things, situations, words start to emerge. Time sticks to things.
For constructing a clock one can use “hard materials, metal, hard plastic – they seem to be more precise as they turn in constant ways, when the wind blows” (Huber, 2012). Barbara Huber’s first attempt to construct windclock in the form of metal Moebius strip failed as the assumed compactness of the material used turned out as undesirable heaviness. One of the spectators of the initial experiment transpired his intellectual passion for the project: “The concept is really nice.” ("TIK - windclocks : kravín," 2011) Moebius strip windclock for sure would make for a beautiful, yet a bit predictable, metaphor of timeflow. Still, the experiment malfunctioned.
The laundry clock, a messy replacement for smooth metal strip, worked. In the company of other time-measuring TIK devices, it maybe “looked unserious – a piece of rag, of old clothes – even an old underwear” (Huber, 2012). Compared to solid TIK models that “show off their ´technical´ sides” (Huber, 2012) and strive for precision in their own invented categories, laundry clock might be labeled as “female”. Washing and drying, that never-ending reproductive work, which is not paid, the caring work for which there is always a number of people waiting and whose wants and desires seem to be insatiable – all this indeed is “female”. But in contradiction to how female labor speaks through laundry, one can think of wind, rags, resistors, etc. as speaking through the assemblage of laundry clock itself. Things-powers, those vital players in world, are maybe merely in need of their representatives. Laundry clock is their representative. Except for a rather expected historical-materialist feminist reading of laundry clock as calcinations of human, read: female, reproductive labor and its unpredictable timing, one can approach laundry clock as a device that distorts binaries between extension and intension, human and non-human, form and matter. Its mission might indeed be pedagogic: to let humans attune to the vibrations of non-humans.
Tik-tak, form-matter, tik-tak, bodies-things, tik-tak, I will-I was, tik-tak, I promise-I forgive, tik-tak.
1) Are you keeping time now?
2) Are you keeping the time you are now spending?
3) Are you spending time while you keep it?
4) Are you keeping time while you are spending it?
5) Do you remember the last time interval you spent before this question?
6) What time will you spend in the near future?
7) Can you spend now an old time interval and keep it in your memory as well?
8) What causes you to keep time?
9) Do you spend your time in your daily life?
10) Is your clock set?
11) If you could spend any time interval you want, what would it be?
12) Are you keeping the time intervals now or just spending them?
13) What time interval is most meaningful to you?
Repeating the exercise is recommended.
Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter : a political ecology of things. Durham: Duke University Press.
Huber, B. (2011). TIK LaundryClock Kit. Retrieved from http://col-me.info/node/825
Huber, B. (2012). Personal e-mail communication. In Ľ. Kobová (Ed.).
Oliveros, P. (2005). Deep listening : a composer's sound practice. New York & Lincoln & Shanghai: iUniverse, Inc.
TIK - windclocks : kravín. (2011). Retrieved from http://padma.okno.be/Vhae3zqd