A Clock Set to 24 Hours Into The Future
2014-2015, public artwork for Sheridan College's Temporary Contemporary, Trafalgar Campus, Oakville Ontario.
A cooling tower on the roof above the main entrance has been fitted with a one-storey tall segmented clock display, transforming it into a clock tower of sorts for the Sheridan College campus. Unlike most campus clocks, this one has been set 24 hours fast, always displaying “tomorrow's time.” Of course, on a four-numeral digital clock, tomorrow's time appears indistinguishable from “today's time,” and therein lies a small bit of levity that is intended to open up a range of poetic interpretations.
A clock tower running 24 hours fast is in fact practical and functional in the present, but serves also as an aspirational signpost pointing towards the idea of tomorrow. This clock has in part been modeled on a stunning modernist clock tower that overlooked Toronto's Exhibition Grounds between 1954 and 1986. It was considered cutting-edge and futuristic in its day. (image below.) A Clock Set To 24 Hours Into The Future also recalls the past, insofar as it conjures a romantic image of the traditional campus clock tower, which appears surprisingly often in literature, poetry, and admissions brochures for many other schools. For institutions older than Sheridan, one imagines an idealized pillar of ivy and stone, with students discoursing at the bottom. “Meet me by the clock tower” sounds lovely, yet there is a melancholy hint of anachronism to the phrase. After all, most of Sheridan's students have a very accurate clock integrated into their phones, unlike their counterparts in the 18th or 19th century who relied on a communal timepiece to get to class punctually. This installation takes account of that obsolescence while still serving the community in other, less horological ways. Visible from kilometers away, it serves as a landmark and wayfinding aid to locate the main entrance. A didactic panel with title information has been positioned at the base.
Above: Shell Oil Tower, 1954, later renamed the Bulova Tower, demolished 1986. George A. Robb architect.
Project acknowledgements: thanks to the Temporary Contemporary committee, Faculty and Staff of Animation Arts and Design Sheridan College, Sheridan Facilities Management, Rocky Dobey, Punchclock Metalworks, Robert Cruickshank, Gordon Hicks.