From Isaac Newton’s absolute idea of time to Albert Einstein’s claim that it is relative, the nature of the temporal has long puzzled scientists. Does time run at the same pace in all situations, or is it affected by other physical forces? This conference “On Time and Clocks,” whose two parts bracket dOCUMENTA (13) on June 8 and September 13, discusses this topic from the perspective of both artists and scientists. It is influenced by two installations in the exhibition: The Refusal of Time (2012) by William Kentridge and Clocked Perspective (2012) by Anri Sala.
During the first session, in June, the historian and philosopher of science Peter L. Galison and artist William Kentridge discuss the repercussions that different ideas of time have on our lives today. Kentridge’s installation The Refusal of Time in the Kulturbahnhof is an artistic response to Galison’s discussion of concepts of time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in his seminal work Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time (2003).
The second session of the conference, in September, focuses on Anri Sala’s installation Clocked Perspective in the Karlsaue park. Sala’s idea to create a working clock whose face is presented in sideways perspective, despite the clock’s frontal orientation, not only disrupts the visitor’s accustomed view, but also brought about some problems for the mechanical clockwork, since the hands of the clock have to change speed to adapt to the unequal distances between the hours. In this session, Sala is joined by the quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger, the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and the clockmaker Hans Siebeneicher, who devised the mechanical clockwork, to discuss different notions of time and how clocks influence our lives.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is a curator, critic and Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery in London. Accompanying Obrist’s curatorial projects is his extensive editorial work. He has contributed to over 200 book projects, with recent publications including Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Curating But Were Afraid To Ask (2011), and The Conversation Series (Vols 1–20) (2007–12).
Anri Sala is an artist and filmmaker based in Paris. His work revolves around an investigation of time, from its historical dimension to its transformation through symbolic forms and human emotions. He uses different techniques and formats in order to capture the end of dreams and the fall of ideologies, while also narrating private histories and small tragedies. Sala first attracted international attention with Intervista (1998).
Hans Siebeneicher is a retired restorer of clocks who owns a specialized shop selling watches and jewellery, Uhrmachermeister Hans Siebeneicher. In 1987 he became the conservator of clocks at the State Museums of Kassel, responsible not only for the clocks in the Cabinet of Astronomy and Physics but also for all the clocks of the state museums. He built the clockwork for Anri Sala’s Clocked Perspective, an installation for dOCUMENTA (13).
Anton Zeilinger is a dOCUMENTA (13) advisor, physicist and a professor at the University of Vienna. A pioneer in the field of quantum information, he is Director of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and his research aims at testing and applying the counterintuitive features of quantum physics. He is renowned for his realization of quantum teleportation with photons.