This birch wood clock is meant to disorient the viewer and make them question the concept of time. As a conceptual art piece, it challenges what clocks represent and how they do so.
The clock is equipped with an hour, minute and second hands which are all moved by wood gears. It has a non traditional face displaying roman numerals which increase counterclockwise. The clock moves thanks to a continuous rotation servo motor which is hooked to a Raspberry Pi Zero. Embedded in the clock face is a a small Raspberry Pi Camera Module that recognizes faces as a proxy for detecting if there is someone looking at the clock.
The clock’s face is flipped, displaying numbers that increase counter-clockwise. The movement of the clock’s hands changes depending on whether or not someone is looking at it.
When no one is looking at the clock: the camera does not detect any faces and the hands move counterclockwise to “accurately” tell time.
When someone is looking at the clock: the camera detects at least one face and the hands move clockwise to follow convention. However, in this scenario, the clock does not tell time “accurately.”
When someone stops looking at the clock: the hands quickly move to restore to the “accurate” time.
The Exhibition Space
The clock hangs in front of a mirror which, by flipping the face of the clock, makes the entire experience more disorienting. The entire piece plays on learned conventions about time and demands for the viewer to stop and reflect on the direction of time.
This project was an amazing experience for many reasons. Skill-wise, I learned how to use the CNC and the laser cutters. I got to learn and practice how to saw, drill, clamp, glue, sand, etc. I learned how to use the Raspberry Pi, how to program a continuous servo, and how to work with OpenCV to detect faces. I also started exploring multiprocessing in Python. I learned about gears and gear reductions and therefore satisfied a long-held curiosity about how clocks work. Paralleling my piece's conceptual framework, I got to explore the mechanism that, for centuries, has materialized the concept of time.
The process was the most significant part of this project. Learning required repeated failures and thus it exacted patience, courage, and diligence. Building this clock demanded all of my time and in the construction process I lost track of it.
There are specific things that I would have done differently:
I would have bought the servo to shaft coupler in time in order to control the servo rotation.
I would have cut a longer 5/32 tube for the minute hand (it keeps loosening and rotating with the second’s and not the minute’s tube)
I would have dedicated more time to making sure I could exhibit the clock in the mirror space where I intended it to be.
I would love to experiment with different materials like metal or acrylic.
I would have liked to pay more attention to the precision of the clock. I would like to access the time.gov time data and play with the concept of time being imposed by an external clock.