This is an art project called 'Standard Time' by Mark Formanek. In late 2007 he filmed a team of 70 workers constructing this clock through 1611 iterations (every minute) for a 24-hour period in Berlin's Sculpture Park. So when originally filmed it was done in real-time.
The flash video here is based on a screensaver that Formanek has made available which synchronises that video to your system clock, making it appear that you're watching the clock as it's being built. It's a clever idea with great execution and the effect is interesting enough that a number of galleries have put screens with the time-synced video on display.
Formanek has since staged a few live re-enactments of this clock being built, though I'm not sure if any others have gone for the full 24 hours.
>Formanek has since staged a few live re-enactments of this clock being built
I will never understand people that appreciate this kind of art. Call me classical, but I really don't see watching a clock interesting.
Someone at the Boston MFA made a 24 hr movie where they compile different bits of film that includes a clock into a real time clock (so if it was 10:23 it would show 10:23 in a bit of the clip). It was interesting until you realize that besides being a neat art project, it's really difficult to understand.
I think I understand what Formanek was aiming for with this.
Unlike pre-compiled footage that can just be made 24 hours long, this was done in real-time with the workers forced to match the demands of the clock without the opportunity to pause during their shifts.
Because of its real-time nature when you view the video synced to your local time you can't help but become somewhat invested in the success of the workers as they struggle to keep up with time and come very close to failing during some transitions. There's tension generated by the fact that you never know whether they'll make the next minute.
Then there's the realisation you get after having watched this for a while that it's really all pointless, that you have become personally invested in the actions of a bunch of workers struggling to keep up with re-creating one of the most basic solved problems of the modern world: A clock. It takes 70 workers working all out to do what a cheap watch can do effortlessly.
I suppose that if it succeeds in getting most viewers to think a bit about the nature of work, time and labour then it achieved its intended purpose.
And in your summary and description, there are a great many almost borderline poetic parallels to a lot of situations and things in our life; there is a tension, almost an arc... great effort but it is all in futility, in vain because there are more modern, better solutions. Old technology vs. new ones? Past vs present? Or the great effort it takes people in poor countries to do something that is totally effortless for most of us? And those are just some silly ideas but still fun to think about it, at least for me.
It's really choppy on my computer, but I'm definitely finding it interesting on a few levels. In case you actually want to understand people that appreciate this kind of art, here's my take:
The basic level for me is that watching them run around is kinda compelling. I once worked out of a high office building across the street from a building being disassembled and then replaced, and I lost hours watching the people at work.
There's also a series of deadlines; watching them speed up and slow down is neat. Very human. Will they make it? How about next minute? A friend who's an improv performer (and Google engineer) sometimes does this thing at his shows called "the oxygen game". Three people improvise a scene, but only two are interacting at once. The third one has their head in a bucket of water until the other two find a narrative reason to bring them back in, at which point somebody else's head goes under. The audience loves this human struggle against time.
Then when watching it, it's really interesting to think about the labor. These are real people, in effect dancing for our pleasure. But they're not professional dancers. They're just construction workers, making another thing for somebody else. How do they feel about that? Do they feel the same way about a lot of the stuff they get hired to build? Are there other things that they build that are ultimately just as pointless, just as rooted in entertainment for the funder?
Then I wonder how far you could take this. What if I put up a webcam in Times Square and had a big mechanical clock where people had to supply the labor. Say by cranking a wheel once a minute. Would people participate? How would they feel? Would the clock ever miss a minute? Would it miss an hour or a day?
So for me, art like this combines an interesting idea with something that engages the senses (and sometimes the emotions) long enough for me to think about the idea and related themes. Nothing new, really: Cathedrals weren't just built to be pretty; they were there to get you think about the builder's god(s).
I see artists as seeding the "Cambrian explosion" of ideas for every new generation. They start with the world as it is and just try stuff. Sometimes it strikes a cord with many people, becomes part of our collective "culture," and is entered into the canon of acceptable "art." Most of the time it is just forgotten. So artists are just out there trying things - if it makes you see the world in a new way or sparks an idea then it is art to you, if it doesn't then who cares?
I have written (edit: arguably terrible) poetry that people really enjoyed. But, I never thought of it as anything other than a word game. When someone called it deep there was a part of me that wanted to call BS and say it's attacking the part of your mind that seeks meaning in everything.
Just Die *What someone says*
End the Endless Breath with Death *What an author says*
Endless Breath Ended *What a poet says*
PS: Some people feel it's the readers who create meaning not the author or words themselves. I always felt that was a little to close to the chinese room argument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room (Edit: Organization is important, a living body and a dead body may have the same atoms, but the dead one does not understand language.)
The same applies to music. There are great variations in taste and there are people who exist who can't appreciate music at all. But it would clearly be absurd for them to claim that music is a case of emperor's clothes. I see your point though.
You can by definition not understand why they don't understand. If you understood why they don't understand then you'd likely not understand yourself. Likewise, if they understood why they don't understand then they'd probably have understood in first place.
I really don't care if we call it art or not. I just think it's neat, it makes me go, "Oh! Cool!" and puts a smile on my face. I'm glad someone is doing it. Much like Improve Everywhere: http://improveverywhere.com/
But is it art? It's all in the eye of the beholder.
I feel the same in reverse. I'm very often left completely cold by art that is about well executed craftsmanship, such as painting, photography or sculpture but lean towards pieces like this which, to my mind, are about prompting the viewer to ask questions.
That's the kicker with 'art' it's about what the person experiencing it takes from it, and those reactions are as varied as people are. Anything is art if at least one person other than the creator reacts to it.
It's not just a clock, but an ever changing installation that will always need the labor of those men constantly rebuilding it, to keep "running". I find it quite interesting, as an idea. Implementation could be better, I guess, but it provokes some interesting associations and thoughts. Which is, I think, one of the definition of art. To capture an idea or emotion, to reproduce and communicate an experience. Not just a picture.
Of course, it's valid to say that it doesn't work for you, or even that it can't work for anyone, because it's plain stupid. Like so many garbage art out there.
> I will never understand people that appreciate this kind of art. Call me classical, but I really don't see watching a clock interesting.
Well, we have definitely gone beyond "classical" art for a LOOONG time now... the times when art was just "pretty" and "classical" is long gone - you find this "pretty" and aiming at the audience more in contemporary pop now, and the "artsy" artists do things like this clock and in my own understanding, an important factor definitely is experimenting and playing with our understanding of "what is art". Because when it comes down to it, there aren't THAT many borders or taboos to cross anymore nowadays so "what is art" is definitely an evergreen, if you will.
I am not saying you have to like it but maybe when seen from this angle, you can find it easier to appreciate the effort. Oh and by saying "I don't get it" or "I don't like it" or "this is crap" you have already contributed something - if you were to say "I don't like it and it is crap BECAUSE....." then you would have even contributed something of greater value. It's all (or rather it's a lot) about how it makes you feel and what you think and the ensuing discussion, really.
Argh! I tuned in at 10:52 and wanted to stick around to see the :00 transition, and the player crapped out just at :59, and when I reloaded the 00 had already been switched, and they were just pulling off the pieces to switch 10 to 11. The next such transition is an hour away!
As an example: ActiveX is dead. If this was done in ActiveX, it wouldn't have gotten any upvotes at all if it was even submitted in the first place, and most wouldn't have seen it or bothered to point out ActiveX is dead.
I thought it was a split frame thing too, but then noticed that they veer into the tens place pretty frequently and cast shadows. :) (And the other comments give more details about the original art installation.)
That's not to say that you couldn't do a split-frame thing like this, with a little bit of cleverness and planning. Even if it were only split around the middle, that's only 72 transitions to film, which isn't too bad.
It's using the same video bandwidth behind the scenes (which is why both are lagging). I'm not sure if that means it's a repost by the author on separate sites, or whether someone is leeching bandwidth for traffic here.