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Artificial Time

"Artificial time" (1999) is an interactive tele-robotic installation by Ana Giron. It was shown in the exhibition of DEAF_00 (2000).

Artificial Time

Ana Giron: Artificial Time

Artificial Time is an interactive tele-robotic installation for the web. It explores our concepts of and relationship to time. A robotic arm, which consists of an armature with a halogen light source on the end, is connected to the web and acts as a light source that revolves above a sundial. By controlling the movement of the robotic arm, one is able to control the shadow on the sundial, thereby controlling the representation of time. Artificial Time confronts both the exhibition visitor and the Internet user with the simultaneity of different time zones and experiences. Spinning in a continuous time loop, the shadow on the sundial oscillates between the local time and the virtual time of a remote location, which in itself is the local time of a telematic visitor.


Longer description by Ana Giron

Artificial time is an interactive tele-robotic installation for the web that explores our concepts of and relationships to time. A robotic arm, which consists of an armature with a halogen ligt source on the end, is connected to the web and acts as a light source that revolves above a sundial.

Only one person can control the robot at a time and that control is limited in time. When you visit the web page, if no one else is controlling the robot, my program will grab the time that is set on your computer and position the robot accordingly to reflect your time with a shadow on the sundial. It will also acquire the country that you have set on your computer and use that to tell others where it is being manipulated from. When your time is up, the robot will reposition itself to its own location time.

If you are not in control, you will get a different interface telling you that time is elsewhere as well as where it is and when it was initially acquired.

The default time on the interface is the local time of the physical location of the robot. There is a bug in my program right now where occasionaly it will be a negative number. I'm not sure if I plan to fix it...

The Time Map is a map of the last twenty four times the robot was positioned. Each time is drawn in different shades of gray ranging from black to white where the latest

When the robot is connected to a server and functioning you should see an image of the sundial on the page which is transmitted through streaming video. If it is not connected, there will be a static picture of the sundial with a message explaining that it is sleeping.

 

More text on Artificial Time

Much of modern life has come to depend on the accurate measurement of time. With the development of the Cesium Atomic Clock, we can now keep time to one millionth of a second per year. This clock is so accurate that it is more precise than the earth's rotation in measuring the passing of a year, so that regular adjustments have to be made on precision time-keeping systems. As technology has developed we have intervened in nature's time-keeping process with the ultimate goal of improving on its perceived imperfections. In so doing, we have abstracted our sense of time from nature - what we live with today is predominantly a technological time. Artificial Time is an interactive telerobotic installation for the web that explores our concepts of and relationship to time. A robotic arm, which consists of an armature with a halogen light source on the end, is connected to the web and acts as a light source that revolves above a sundial. By controlling the movement of the robotic arm, one is able to control the shadow on the sundial, thereby controlling the representation of time. The sundial represents a contrast of current technology with past technology and an organic awareness of time in a purely mechanical and artificial environment. This 'sun' provides twenty-four hours a day of sunlight, rain or shine, with computer driven precision. Because the sundial is dependent on location, in terms of latitude and longitude position, it becomes a metaphor for location on the web, a mapping out of different time zones and a sense of place. Our modern clocks dictate the pace of our lives. The precise measurements lead to a tightly scheduled day of hours and minutes. The imprecision of a sundial proposes a different pace; events are scheduled to the hour rather than minutes. With the coming of the new millennium and the growing importance our modern society places on the measurement of time, it seems appropriate to rethink our relationship to time and propose alternatives to our present day system. A video camera transmits the image of the sundial on the web. While multiple viewers can see the sundial, only one person can control the robot arm at a time, which is timed to one minute. There is a different interface to the arm depending on whether you are influencing the arm or just observing. When one gains control of the arm, the time and location set on their computer is sent to the server which positions the robot accordingly. Anyone else who is connected at that time is able to see the location of the Exclusive client as well as the initial time they connected. A second window with a Time Map is also part of the web site. It is a record of the last twenty-four connection times drawn in shades of gray from black to white where the last connection is in white. Eventually it will also include a map of time zones or locations. The default time on the dial is the local time of its physical location. The project, installed at a gallery, is being manipulated remotely. Only those present at the gallery can see the actual source of light. Artificial Time confronts both the exhibition visitor and the Internet user with the simultaneity of different time zones and experiences. Spinning in a continuous time loop, the shadow on the sundial oscillates between the local time and the virtual time of a remote location, which in itself is the local time of a telematic visitor. Under normal circumstances, a sundial only works if it is fixed and in a stable position in relation to the sun. Like that, it indicates the definite, solar time in a specific location. The installation Artificial Time replaces the sun by a mobile light source and simulates the sun's position according to the technical information about time and location from the connected computers, relativising the specificity of time and place.

As technology has developed we have intervened in nature's timekeeping process with the ultimate goal of improving on its perceived imperfections. In so doing, we have abstracted our sense of time from nature.
From: Ana Giron: Leonardo, Vol.32, No.5, pp. 457-463, 1999

My 'sun' provides 24 hours a day of sunlight, rain or shine, with computer-driven precision.
From: Ana Giron: Leonardo, Vol.32, No.5, pp. 457-463, 1999

With the coming of the new millenium and the growing importance our modern society places on the measurement of time, it seems appropriate to rethink our relationship to time and propose alternatives to our present system.
From: Ana Giron: Leonardo, Vol.32, No.5, pp. 457-463, 1999

The sun has always been and still is indirectly, the main source of temporal change, darkness shifting to light and back again in cyclical movement. At the same time, the abstraction of time has become an obsessive human urge, regulating human activity towards the utmost efficiency. As invention follows invention, the organic and mechanic seem caught in a tiresome love-hate relationship, fluctuating between closed and open structures of time. Is the sun the 'raw material' of time experience, formed and manipulated by machines? And if so, do we still experience the sun as such? Does the hyped apparition of an awaited eclipse solely draw our attention to the sun as a source of time? And would we really, after squinting in the sun, rather do it more efficiently: slip a coin into the slot and let the sun bed do the rest?

Whereas the sundial was already widespread in Greece in 400 B.C, its shifting shadows were not installed in Rome until 293 B.C. In fact in 263 B.C, Rome had a sundial imported, especially made in Corinthe: without taking the difference in latitude into account, Rome lived with the 'wrong time' for almost 1000 years! As the first pendulum clocks were developed, mid-seventeenth century, the precision of the sundial was developed simultaneously. The day was now not only divided into hours but also into hours of the same duration. So, funnily enough, the sundial remained the ultimate time-controller as a representative of 'truthful time' hailed by the rooster -"Je marque le temps vrai, l'Horloge marque le temps moyen."- Obviously the deeprooted connection to astrology and later Newton, connecting the micro to the macro universe, may explain the reverence for the sun in relation to time... perhaps today however, it is not so much the stars and the sun themselves but the movement in between which pushes time experience towards acceleration? As time consciousness moves from static to dynamic, the sun remains the material, not however as an object, but moreover focused on the speed of light between...

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