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Conceptual Clocks Explore Our Perception Of Time

Joe Doucet experiments with time-pieces in a his exhibition On Time.

These days most of us probably tell the time by looking at a smartphone, which has come to replace the humble wristwatch. But time is a peculiar affair and the apparatuses we use to interpret it only reinforce our skewed concept of it.

Joe Doucet, a designer in New York, has recently produced a series of objects that look at time in more conceptual ways for an exhibition called On Time at Wanted Design 2012. The way time can change when you’re waiting for a bus or playing a video game is one of its great tricks, and this illusory perception we have of it is what Doucet highlights in his project while experimenting with our ideas of what we think time is.



Oroborus means “the snake that eats its own tail,” a symbol of infinity and rebirth. This timepiece is a looped hourglass which tears down the mask of maya that tells us time is finite and linear, and shows it as everlasting.


One of the physical effects of time is entropy—you leave something alone for long enough and it’ll tend towards chaos. Just take a look at your work desk. How did it end up in such a mess? You don’t even know. The time piece above is made from unpolished solid walnut cone with a mirror on the bottom. As time goes by, the piece will age gradually each day, showing its wear and tear like a badge of honor. The mirror allows you to see how you’re changing, too.


Tick-tock, tick-tock—the sound of time, but not the only one. Synk uses sub-bass frequencies in a liquid medium and enhances the ticking sound of a clock, in turn creating sound waves to give you a visualization of time.


Moving at one revolution per minute this piece is in constant tension to reveal a multi-level version of time. It’s made from brass and wil last and still be functioning in 500 years. It won’t tell you the time, but you’ll definitely experience those seconds, minutes, and hours disappearing into the past while you watch it.

[Read more about Doucet and his unusual clocks over at PSFK]