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TellyJuice is a creative agency & video production company. Packed with creative juice, we are 100% good for you!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Time For Some Art

Whilst passing a shop window in Prenzlauer Berg on a recent jaunt to Berlin, I discovered ‘Standard Time’. A large TV screen visible through the glass had attracted a crowd of tourists all laughing and pointing.  On the screen was a large seemingly digital clock. ‘What’s so amusing about the passage of time?’ I pondered, but low and behold: this was no ordinary clock. This was in fact ‘Standard Time’ – an art project by Mark Formanek, recorded on film, lasting exactly 24 hours.

Standard Time -

In Standard Time, the lines that make up each digit are huge planks of wood, held by bolts and brackets. As every minute passes a team of workers enter, equipped with hard hats and ladders, to move the planks into their next position. These minute-by-minute changes continue through 24 hours. Though edits are visible, the sun does rise and set at the right time, proving that this art project was created around the clock (excuse the pun).

The anticipation of waiting for each minute change is tantamount to enjoyment for the viewer, and on this occasion in Prenzlauer Berg the assembled audience let out a giddy cheer when the clock ticked on from 22:59 to 23:00. On scurried the yellow-hatted team, ant-like next to the huge numbers. They had barely finished one change, when the next was due.

You can see the overall effect in this time-lapse video:


You can also see a behind the scenes of Formanek's more recent version, constructed in Rotterdam, in which Standard Time goes digital.

Though this work can be categorised as ‘performance art’, its practical use as a working clock has made it commercially successful. Standard Time is available on DVD and as an App for iPhone and iPad. Admittedly, my first thought on seeing it was ‘Where can I get a copy?’ though Formanek would perhaps argue that this was never intended as a commercial venture. His artistic explanation on the Standard Time website relates more to the passage of time than sales in the App store. He says: 

‘…this film is much more than just the recording of an action, the recording of something that has taken place in the past; it is also a clock. A clock for use right now and in the future which, as each day goes by, extends further into the past, but is still up-to-date and punctual.’ 

As a bit of a hippy, what I enjoy about this piece is its inherent theme of ‘Togetherness’. Standard Time involved 70 workers, and with a digital clock face measuring 12m x 4m, it was essential for each team to communicate with one another and work together to meet their timely deadlines.  

Standard Time is filmed in Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum, with camera locked off for a wide shot. Berlin’s eastern bloc architecture can be seen in the background, punctuated by ball and spike of the TV Tower. The inclusion of a famous landmark suggests that this is not a generic work of art, but more precisely it is a German work of art. Formanek is putting Berlin on the map for its culture and boosting the German capital’s reputation. Over time the public will associate Berlin less with war and segregation, and more with creativity and unity. And for that reason Standard Time gets a big TellyJuice thumbs up.

1 comment:

  1. LOve it !

    Not the same but it reminded me of Christian Marclay's: The Clock

    'The Clock' is constructed out of moments in cinema when time is expressed or when a character interacts with a clock, watch or just a particular time of day. Marclay has excerpted thousands of these fragments and edited them so that they flow in real time. While 'The Clock' examines how time, plot and duration are depicted in cinema, the video is also a working timepiece that is synchronised to the local time zone. At any moment, the viewer can look at the work and use it to tell the time. Yet the audience watching 'The Clock' experiences a vast range of narratives, settings and moods within the space of a few minutes, making time unravel in countless directions at once. Even while 'The Clock' tells the time, it ruptures any sense of chronological coherence.


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