The shop is up and running and we've had a good number of visitors taking part. The times range from 6 mins 30 to 18 mins.
The Human Clock has been surprisingly accurate today, performed by Elisa Vassena, Fiona Millward and I. We've kept it up to time for the whole 8 hours!
Lucy and Katheryn have been doing an amazing job encouraging people to come in and spend "10 Minutes" with us. We've had some debate about competition- usually it's about speed but that won't help with our task, it's accuracy you need, if anything. In truth it feels more important that each person has an authentic experience of themselves in ten minutes, in those ten minutes...
An older lady passed the shop and smiled. Later she came back and told us why, saying "I'm always chasing time, I'm always trying to fit too much in. And that's time isn't it?"
So many people seem to understand time as a container they fill with activity, and seem adverse to the possibility of being in time without all that activity...I wonder how and if we can think about time independently of the activity...to have time to think often feels like a luxury. I think this ties into a suspicion / resistance/ joy (etc) that an art project would be happening on this street corner...that we are here- legitimately- spending time (and money on time) to think about and experience time!
Some people were resistant to the idea of taking part, saying: "I don't have 10 minutes". I often wanted to talk to them about the idea of 'having' time; to ask them what they will do instead of being part of the work, to illustrate that the decision to not take part is one of active choice i.e. they have the time, it is up to them how they fill it/ use it/ waste it/ spend it/ pass it. Drawing attention to this utility of time, and our possibility to be engaged with how we use it was one of my interests in siting this work within as busy environment and inviting members of the public to take part.
Many of the people who don't 'have' 10 minutes to spare to spend with us then spend a long time, much longer than 10 minutes in conversation about time...
One man was asking, "what do I get from it?" The experience wasn't a satisfactory answer for him, prior to doing it. He asked, "what are you selling?" He said you could look at your phone for the time in that time, or you could go swimming in that time, or you could even meditate in that time. Katheryn asked him why these 10 minutes were any less important than those 10 minutes, and he seemed to consider the experience more after that. He took part despite previously saying he didn't want to, his 10 minutes were fast, and he was surprised. He had trouble focusing during it, his eyes were open, looking around.
Some people did have difficulty in letting go of the technology they use to measure time, difficulty in yielding to the experience presented by just sitting for the perceived 10 minutes to pass. An older man, a professor timed himself by his watch and then was pleased when he was very accurate, and a young man timed himself on his phone, after being very willing to take part and seeming interested in having the experience. I think there is a difficulty in letting go of a sense of competition sometimes, even if it cheats you out of an experience, and even if the accuracy of the result is- in some sense- meaningless. We celebrated with people who were pleased with their accuracy, and consoled people who were annoyed with their lack of accuracy, but the focus of our attention was always on the quality and validity of each person's experience, rather than the actual time of their ten minutes.
The significance of the clock seems different for people of different ages- some younger people finding it fun, weird, interesting, a curious durational challenge to perform...and some of the older people having more reflective reactions, talking about the past i.e. there's a difference in focus on the activity (in the present) and the medium of time as something 'housing' the past.
From the point of view as a performer of the work I feel these changing tones as different clusters of people pass by and stop to watch, they became a reference by which I contextualise this passing/ accumulation/ disappearance of it...and the same time actions of turning the pages come to mean different things at different moments. In this window I feel very much with the outside that I will soon go back into when someone else takes the baton of keeping time going.
"While I was there, flipping seconds after second, minute after minute, I had the feeling the pages were peeling off my own skin. As if those were my own seconds. As if we are somehow born like a bunch of layers and layers of pages and pages and pages of the seconds that make up our lifetime, and that second after second after second they peel off, gradually, in reverse, losing the time we were born with."
Artist Assistant: Lucy Hayhoe
The Human Clock Performers: Elisa Vassena, Fiona Millward, Elodie Escarmelle
Documentation: Alex Murphy
With thanks to: Katheryn Owens