We didn't know that the set of mechanisms comprising the inside of a clock is called a "movement" until we were looking for clock parts on eBay, trying to find a pulley wheel that matched the size of a standard rubber band. So, in a way, the clock was a source of material before it was a source of content. As we disassembled the clocks, the movements inside exploded into all sorts of unexpected additional pieces, like little brass hammers with leather heads, minuscule springs and pinions, conspicuously shaped anchors or shaft collars much smaller than the ones we'd previously experimented with. Coupled with our familiar palette of brackets and fasteners from hardware stores, the newly encountered components helped us find new movements, as we routed the clock's constant imposition of a rationalizing rhythm into four sculptures, each following their own rationale.
The sculptures in Clock Work use passing trains as triggers for each of their particular movements. These triggers come from a box containing a sensor and a sender that we hid at nearby train tracks, which detects vibration from passing trains and relays this information to receivers connected to each sculpture. By indexing this motion as a small array of spinning, tapping, rotating and vibrating clock parts, the movements of the sculptures serve as poor translations of the passing trains. But in their misfires, they hum superfluously within and alongside regularity, nagging at the predictable motion of the train. The utility of the train is to draw locations closer together through its speed and directness. In a sense, an even more frictionless annihilation of space takes place between the tracked train and the receiving sculpture, a collapse of departure and destination in real time. However, for better or worse, the train’s utility stops where the motion of each sculpture starts.
Michèle Graf and Selina Grüter are an artist duo living in New York, working with language and translation. They studied media arts at Zurich University of the Arts and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. Recent exhibitions and performances include the Whitney Museum of American Art, Kunsthalle Fribourg, and the Emily Harvey Foundation New York.
Clock Work was developed in collaboration with Maximilian Kriegleder.