A more-or-less Precision Clock.
This clock was developed for the exhibition "Invisible Powers - Between Art and Science" which was held at the 'Bloomfield Science Museum' in Jerusalem at the 22 of march.
This is a digital wall clock, in which the display is consisted of standard florescent tube lights (60 cm length each), which gives a total measure of about 2 X 4 meters.
Each tube-light (which serves as one segment) is controlled by a standard 24hrs-plug-in Time Switch. This array simulates the concept of Seven Segment Display (SSD) with basic and daily objects, and more important, without a main computing device.
The standard time-switch devices are based on a 24hrs clock divided to 96 switches of 15 minutes each. This fact limits my clock-display to show the time in gaps of 15 minutes (i.e 8:00; 8:15; 8:30; 8:45.. etc)
BUT, by adding an illuminated sign on the top of the clock, I have reduced the tolerance of inaccuracy from 15 minutes to only 7.5 minutes. the sign reads in Hebrew "A bit before" OR "A bit after" and changes between these two options every 7.5 minutes (this is controlled by electronic time switch).
A. The fact that the 'mind' of the clock is divided between almost 20 separate components, causes an interesting and unpredictable incident every time the clock changes the display. the independence of each switch brings a time gap of up to 3 minutes in which the display can be unreadable or missing, till all the segments are in correct position (on or off). This, together with the natural flickering of the florescent tube lights, is where, in my opinion, the clock shifts from science to art.
B. Indeed, it is a ridiculous idea. imagine that you are in a car, and you need to navigate to an unknown place, but instead of one voice GPS navigator you have TWENTY in the car, all working at the same time, giving you different instructions. at the end of the day, they will all bring you to your place, but they will give you a great headache... I made an effort to reduce the number of the switches to minimum. if you will look carefully you will notice that the first digit from the right is operated with one switch only. this is because this digit needs to show only the numbers 0 or 5, and i have managed to control that with only one clock by adding a NC NO contactor.
C. Against all odds, and while breaking some of the basic rational methods that I am familiar with, This clock as a whole keeps the time in a surprising accuracy. Truth needs to be said, adjusting this clock is a nightmare. it takes about an hour to adjust all the switches together, and from time to time one switch or another needs some additional adjustment. Unfortunately, a week after i installed the clock, the time in Israel was advanced to daylight saving time mode, so i had to repeat the process all over again....
D. this clock is representing time in a way which resembles a mechanical clock. usually when we look at the dials of the clock, we cant precise the accurate time, and we prefer to round it to the nearest number. in this clock, the attitude of 'a bit before/after' reminds me the same approach. furthermore, Since every time switch is consisted of spur gears and its movement is mechanic (there is even an escapement wheel inside!), It makes this clock a true digital-Mechanical clock.
E. One last thought, it was an interesting experience to work at the museum, under the deadline of the exhibition opening. looking at the clock from time to time, and getting only a rough idea of what time it is (a bit before, a bit after)... was a bit stressing, but i never felt that i am not aware of the time. it was exactly what I needed to know at that time. also ive noticed that people are way less patience then what i have expected, art or not an art, some have already complained to the museum that the clock is not working...
A photo album that shows the process of designing and building the clock can be found here
Hope you liked the clock. feel free to comment below (no sign-up needed) or to contact me by email for further information. If you find this project interesting, you may want to have a look at another clock i have built to the same exhibition, dealing with the same concepts but with a totally different approach. see below or here.