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Twilight of the Second Hand

'Twilight of the Second Hand, MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR PIEZOELECTRICITY, part 2' (2000) is an installation by Ron Kuivila.

Twilight of the Second Hand

Ron Kuivila: Twilight of the Second Hand

These days time keeping is no longer adequate; networked synchronization of the human resources and ever-finer subdivision of their time are replacing it. Twilight of the Second Hand does the same. 720 watches are set incorrectly so that their hourly chimes are heard all the time, but many are dead - their batteries have expired. Those that still run beep rather timidly. The primary sound of the piece is the same watch beep, but it is synthetically reproduced by a single, central authority.

Twilight of the Second Hand was created by Ron Kuivila and shown at the exhibtion of DEAF00 in 2000.

 

"Today, the ring of the cell phone is more common than the beep of a watch and setting a watch is becoming, er, anachronistic... Time keeping is no longer adequate; it is being replaced by networked synchronization of the human resources and ever finer subdivision of their time. It is your attention and your life that experiences this ever faster multiplexing." (Ron Kuivila).

 

Artist statement by Ron Kuivila

Technology aspires to banality. St. Exupery's visions of flight have long since given way to the mild boredom and slight dehydration of the airlines. The mechanical precision of a Rolex seems nostalgic and faintly irrelevant in a world where time is dear and time keeping is cheap. As distance matters less, our post-colonial free ride is beginning to end and we are beginning to see the new disciplines to which we will be expected to submit. Two years ago, I made Making the World Safe for Piezoelectricity as a portrait of those tendencies. The piece consisted of 720 watches set incorrectly so that their hourly chimes are heard all the time and the alarms are clustered so that they go off every 6 minutes throughtout the hours of exhibition. There are 12 divisors of the 60 minutes in an hour (1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 , 30 , 60). These defined 'meters' of one beat per hour, two beats per hour and so forth. Each of these 'meters' is marked with 60 watches. (Since 720 = 12 X 60, there are precisely enough watches to mark the 12 different meters. ) The watches are evenly distributed across the pulses of each meter. The phase relationship of the 'meters' are arranged to make the number of watches sounding per minute as uniform as possible. This still results in variations from a high of 61 watches sounding in one minute to a low of 5 watches sounding in another. Today, the ring of the cell phone is more common than the beep of a watch and setting a watch is becoming, er, anachronistic... Time keeping is no longer adequate; it is being replaced by networked synchronization of the human resources and ever finer subdivision of their time. It is your attention and your life that experiences this ever faster multiplexing. Twilight of the Second Hand does the same. The hour is now divided into seconds rather than minutes -- a 60 fold increase in resolution. The watches of the first piece reappear in a maze like formation at eye level, but many are now dead -- their batteries have expired. The few that still run beep, but rather timidly -- they have been replaced. The primary sound of the piece is the same watch beep, but it is now synthetically reproduced by a single, central authority (a computer with 12 channels of output audio) in a system of subdivisions based on the second rather than the minute. There are 45 divisors of the 3600 seconds in an hour (1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 12 15 16 18 20 24 25 30 36 40 45 48 50 60 72 75 80 90 100 120 144 150 180 200 225 240 300 360 400 450 600 720 900 1200 1800 3600), defining 45 meters ranging from a familiar 60 beats per minute to a glacial one beat per hour. Each meter distributes 3600 accents according to how frequently it occurs. 1 for 1 beat per second, 2 for 1 beat every 2 seconds, etc.

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