Thursday, June 13, 2024

'Real Time' by Maarten Baas (Man in a Clock)

Real Time by Maarten Baas
The man trapped in a clock, Paddington.

At the corner of Eastbourne Terrace and Craven Road, in Paddington, on the front of the EFL building, you will find a clock.

Now, clocks are everywhere, so why is this one so special? Well, this one has a man trapped inside it.

Yep. As you peer up at this clock, a man appears and cleans the clock face, from inside, rubs out the hands and then repaints them... every minute.

It is part of an art installation entitled 'Real Time', by Dutch artist Maarten Baas.

The first 'Real Time' piece, entitled 'Sweeper's Clock', was produced in April 2009 and consisted of a video of road sweepers moving rubbish around to create analogue clock hands.

Maarten Baas followed this up with a person painting a digital clock from behind a translucent screen and then a man painting analogue hands on a grandfather clock, from behind a screen.

In 2016 Maarten Baas installed the 'Schiphol Clock' at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. 

Real Time by Maarten Baas
The man has gone to get his paintbrush.

The Paddington clock, installed in 2021, is almost identical to the one at Schiphol airport.

Maarten Baas had to film an actor for 12 straight hours, to create the video. The actor was dressed in a 3-piece suit, from the late nineteenth century, as a kind of homage to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who was the architect for Paddington Station, on the other side of the street.

It is fun to watch and, because of its height from the ground, doesn't distract any of the passing drivers. The brightness of the clock face changes with the exterior light, ensuring the man is always visible.*

*The lines and coloured waves in the images and videos are not visible when viewed in person, but are a consequence of the screen refresh rate and my camera shutter speed.

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