Recently, a bomb-sprayed piece of graffiti on a wall, reading “Time doesn’t exist, clocks exist”, drew my attention to two layers coexisting in the perception of time. One refers to the flowing entity, while the other invokes the intellectual, man-made structure that we use to sequence events and place them in a chronology.
The notion of time also opposes the mathematical abstraction calculating periods of time and the concrete mechanism of clocks counting its passage.
This begs the question: is there something called Time, other than the counting activity? Isn’t the consciousness of time a typically human experience?
The final experiment of this research took place in a busy train station during rush hour, in order to reflect the flow characteristic of the place. It involved eight people mimicking a digital clock in real time with their arms and shoulders. Standing in line side by side in the middle of the station, two of them acted as the hours units, two for the minutes, and another two for the seconds. The two other performers were acting as the colons separating each unit of time. The wearable letterform, with its specific flexibility, allowed the message (in this case Time) to change from one second to the other, following more or less accurately the ticking of the station’s clock.
The numbers each of the performers enacted were enhanced by day-glow long-sleeved boleros, which besides making them visible, also echoed the yellow of the train schedule boards above them.
Used in this specific context and by using people as a medium, this temporary letterform confronts the economic value of time (as in time is money) with the individual perception of it.
As seen at Liverpool Street Station on the 23/10/2009 between 18:00:00 and 19:00:00
The final outcome of this experiment is its recording, in the form of a set of photographs fixing the message in the time, space and audience (commuters in a rush) it was addressed to. The letterform was contextual at the actual moment it was mimicked. What is left is a trace of it, as the message displayed (the time the photograph was taken) will not be accurate anymore when looking at the photograph. What was achieved with this latest experiment of wearable type was a hic et nunc letterform, a letterform for the here and now, finding its raison d’être when used in real time.