Collecting Clocks and Losing Time


Radio art work for broadcast, in 5.1 and stereo (2012-2013),  44:00.

Awarded 2nd place in the Prix Palma Ars Acoustica, 2014.

Developed as part of a suite of iterations about radio and timekeeping (includes the broadcast and performance work For the time being (2010), the compositions Measure the time taken (2012), and the installations 5 Times (less a hundred) (2012), and Studio Time (2013).

The first version of Collecting Clocks and Losing Time premiered at the Tsonami Festival de Arte Sonoro in Valparaiso, Chile, on November 26, 2012, and was then performed in 8 channels at the Deep Wireless Festival of Radio and Transmission Art in Toronto, May 2013.

The present 5.1 version of the piece premieres on ORF Kunstradio, Austria, on December 8, 2013.

Subsequently the piece has aired on YLE Finnish national public radio on April 28, 2014; on WDR3 Westdeutsche Rundfunk Köln on June 6, 2014; HRT Croatian national public radio on August 8, 2014; DeutschlandRadio Kultur on August 22, 2014. It has also been played in Vienna in the MuseumsQuartier as part of TONSPUR live_open_air on August 16-17, 2014.

Here’s the description, which, though cryptic, is really what it’s all about:

An aural expedition across zones of hard and soft time, to where cuckoos nest and errant robotniks bungle the machinery of atomic time.

Once upon a time there was a house in the countryside which housed a hundred clocks. Once upon a time the clocks in every home ran on their own time, and all the trains and hotels and shops counted their own time. One day time was made universal, divided into zones, and propagated around the globe. One day microwaves were fired at a cesium-12 isotope, and the rate of electron loss dictated the most standard time of all. Still there were digital devices that did not understand which time zone they lived in. Still the clocks slowed, dragging the seconds and minutes and hours behind them. Still everyone was late.

My father collected cuckoo clocks, which I inherited when he died. He left 5 clocks behind. Once upon a time there were 26. I have come to learn that there are much larger clock collections than this. I have also learned that coordinated universal time is a legend told among the cuckoos in the clock forest on a rainy night.

Recorded in Vancouver and Chicago.
Mixed in 5.1 at Ö1 studios, Vienna, Austria.  Martin Leitner, teknik.