A SECOND CLOCK ART PROJECT

"Time is on My Side"
This is my fourth art piece and my second one that incorporates clocks, old technology, and rock music records.  I have recently learned that this is called "recycled art" since all the components have been recycled from their previous purposes.  This one took me less than a month to create compared to six months for "Rock Around the Clock", my original foray into recycled art.  I just got into the "flow" and put it together fairly quickly at which point I realized that there was a lack of "balance" and the theme wasn't working so I tore off a bunch of stuff, added some more, and hope that it is better.  I think that I like this one better than the others. I seem to be getting a sense of what I can and cannot do.

This one is named after one of my favorite Rolling Stones Songs.  Before you look at the pictures below a little history.  I started with a blank canvas, an assortment of clock mechanisms (thanks to Bob, my expert scrounger who shows up with all sorts of fun toys); records (45s, 78s); a bunch of circuit boards, switches, diodes, condensers, wires, and other "old" technologies that I had scavenged from the tech graveyard at my university; and an idea to duplicate what I had done with "Rock Around the Clock" but do it differently and (hopefully) better.  While the last clock art took me six months, this one went much faster, most likely since I had a concept in mind when I started.  The two foot by three foot canvas is mounted on the wall in the George Marsh Applied Cognition Lab where I spend nearly all of my campus time.  It has five real clocks, each embedded in either a record or some computer storage vehicle (CD ROM, floppy disks - ranging in size from 8" down to zip disks, and other interesting stuff), plus a fake clock that has hands that do not move.  The canvas itself has a myriad of switches, relays, and wires, all connected across the canvas front as well as up and down the sides, top, and bottom, that appear to power the clocks and some speakers.  In reality, nothing controls nothing.  Maybe next time. 

So, below is a large photo of "Time is on My Side." I will try to describe it for you in general and then there some photos shots of parts of the canvas.  Here's some stuff to look for:

1.  At the top right you can see Jethro Tull's fantastic album titled "Too Old to Rock and Roll ... Too Young to Die." The title track is my all-time favorite Tull song.  The title is a bit misleading since the best part of the song is the last iteration of the title which intones, "You're Never Too Old to Rock and Roll if You're Too Young to Die."  This is how I feel about my relationship with rock 'n roll music.  I still go to tons of concerts -- this year alone I have seen Venice (twice); Kansas; Alan Parson's Project; Three Dog Night; the Golden Oldies (Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Fabian); Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Moody Blues, and, of course, our local "Fiesta del Sol" -- and will listen to and enjoy most any music.  One interesting thing about the Jethro Tull clock is that the hands, which I covered with glitter, do not seem to want to work which is somehow symbolic of something. Of what I am not sure, but in deference to the order of the universe, the second hand ticks back and forth and never moves.

2.  There are three 45 RPM singles. Well, actually there is really only one 45 and two sleeves (as they used to be called). The actual 45 is Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" which I wasn't able to find for the last project, but managed to pay dearly (like $3) for a copy on a long walk I took in Portland when I was there for a conference.  The two sleeves are both time related - George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago" and Willie Nelson's "Good Times."  Although I am not a country music fan (at least not the "She ran away with my best friend and shot the dog" type), I do like Willie and am glad to have gotten the sleeve to display.

3.  Just like the last project, one clock is embedded in layers of old "floppies" ranging from an 8" floppy with a series of smaller and smaller storage devices ending with a zip disk and white clock hands.  Spreading from the middle, where the numbers should be, are a variety of things including condensers, diodes, vacuum tubes, and very large memory chips.

4.  The last clock is surrounded by a very old floppy disk from a program for the Apple IIe called the "Timeout" series by the Beagle Brothers.  There are about 10 program disks that were the forerunner of the "suites" (a la Microsoft Office) and I selected this one for no good reason whatsoever other than I used it a lot in the old days.  More on that later.

5. At the bottom is a clock face with what looks like a clock mounted above it on top of old meters that did something in the lab, but the clock has no moving parts.

6.  There are several circuit boards and psychological measuring devices of days gone by scattered throughout the canvas.  I have pictures of them below with more complete explanations.

7.  All around the outside edges and the bottom are wires and pieces of technology, all hooked together by alligator clips or some other form of connectors.  Up one side and down the other, they run from place to place actually going nowhere and doing nothing.  But, they were fun to put together and they do look interesting ... at least to me!

So, now I feel like I am on a roll and want to start on another one.  My problem is what to do with the next one when it is done.  I have one in Oceanside and one at the lab and a canvas wouldn't really fit our "decor" in Solana Beach so I guess I will just make it and go from there!



Here is a pretty clear view of the top half of the piece.  At the upper right is the Apple IIe floppy disk drive with a disk sticking out.  The disk says "Logo" on it which was an early computer language (sort of). The disk actually is (or was since I cut it in half) a Logo disk.  If you want to know more about the Logo language you can click here.




This shows the bottom half with two real clocks and one fake one.  The bottom has a bevy of wires connecting all sorts of lights and switches.


Most of the equipment in the psychology lab in the 1970s and 80s was made by Lafayette Instrument Company.  The company is still in business and makes lab equipment including polygraphs!  I saved this plate to honor their contribution to psychological research.


This is a cool circuit board that actually had a display of two sets of three digits. I have no clue what it was used for but I liked it enough to have it be the centerpiece of the bottom of the canvas.


This is the floppy disk clock which includes a descending array of floppies from the 8.5" Verbatim disk which I used for my doctoral dissertation (it took two disks to store 70 pages of text!).  Then there is a 5.25" disk, a CD, a 3.5" disk and a zip disk.  The hours are marked with a variety of odds and ends including vacuum tubes at the 3/6/9/12 hours and the rest an assortment of other obsolete computer parts.




Here is a close-up of the 12 PM vacuum tube which is huge and I have connected to other parts via resisters and other similar parts.


Here's Willie and his clock with red hands to match the sleeve.  YouTube has a video of the song with just the lyrics flashing on the screen but at least you get to hear the song.


My Rock Around the Clock clock with the classic 45 still in pretty good shape although it is marked up just above the "Rock" where someone probably tore off the sale price (maybe 25 cents?).


I loved this series of Apple IIe applications. In order to run them you had to put the disk in the disk drive (like the one at the top right of the canvas) and then it would run the program on the disk.  What I think is particularly funny is that all of these floppies came with a sleeve warning of potential dangers like high heat, paper clips, etc.  This one, for some unknown reason, warned you not to make the disk into a paper airplane.  Classic.  There is a pretty cool online Beagle Brothers Museum that talks all about the company and these products.






I admit it ... I loved George. I thought that John was the brains behind the Beatles but George was the soul.  My favorite George Harrison song is While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but this one will do quite nicely in this art piece since it is George's homage to John written after he was murdered.  Now George is gone. How different might rock and roll be without those two geniuses.  Here are clips of All Those Years Ago and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.


Apple came out with the first true floppy (well, there was that 8.5" floppy but it was limited to standalone word processors) and their floppy drive featured the colorful Apple logo.  The drive sits on top of a circuit board and has another one (shown here) facing out.  Of course, there are cables leading from the drive every which way.  A larger view of the floppy and front of the drive is shown to the right -->



Under the disk drive is part of the actual circuit board from the drive itself.



Connecting the disk drive to the other stuff on the left, the wire passes through a plastic shield that says "Ultra Speed" which is the top of a very old electric shaver.


This is a meter for measuring Galvanic Skin Response which is still used in psychology experiments to assess arousal level.  The meter above is not really part of the GSR; it is just for show.  To the right is a finger clip which was also used to measure arousal. I attached it to the GSR meter for fun and then connected through a series of condensers, disks and a ribbon connector to a circuit board.  The small circuit board just to the left of the finger clip was from a defunct flash drive and is probably the newest piece on the canvas.


Here's a close-up of the top left side of the canvas with a series of clips leading to and from everywhere.  I love the circular ones which I bought in bulk from a store that specializes in old computer parts.  I think a bag of 50 cost me a dollar!


At the top left of the canvas there is a meter just above the word "TIME" which is connected to a switch which, of course, does nothing.  The vacuum tube, as far as I can tell, is part of an amplifier. At least when I went online the amp showed the tube in a pair.  IEC Electronics Company is still in business (since 1966) in Newark, NY.


More of the connectors shown in close-up here.


This is a slightly larger photo of the side and front of the upper left side.


Here is an aerial view of the fake clock.  The hands came from a real clock that actually took me about an hour to dismantle.  I wanted the hands so badly that I refrained from doing my usual and beating the crap out of the casing to get at the hands.  From this angle it is hard to see but the hands are way cool.  The part at the bottom is from an amazingly cheap, plastic clock.


Here is another view of the fake clock.  This took me more time than anything on the canvas since I needed to glue it in stages.  I ended up using several meters to perch the clock up above the face and then connecting each meter to a variety of switches and anything else in sight.


Here is a good view of the fake clock being held up by a set of meters which read who knows what.  The "clock" is intricately connected to a circuit board on the bottom left side which is connected to a memory chip which may have been an 8K or 16K chip!  Note that the "clock" is actually connected to almost everything on the bottom part of the canvas. Since it is a non-functioning clock I felt compelled to provide it the illusion of functionality.


On the right side there was a bevy of circuit boards and wires connecting anything to everything.  It all started at the bottom with the circuit board shown to the left followed by a rainbow cable which Apple used on a variety of peripherals including the disk drive.




The rainbow cable leads to a circuit board and then connects on the canvas to the GSR and on the side to more of those amazing technologies of yore.






The right side continues with an actual working wrist watch made by a company called LTD.  Found this in a thrift shop for 50 cents and couldn't resist adding yet another time piece.


This is a full view of the left side so that you can see the stream of connectors leading up to the watch.


Here is the same for the right side.


And finally, my signature and the year.  It seems that I feel compelled to sign my pieces in keyboard keys.  Since I have at least 10 old keyboards and a huge baggie of miscellaneous keys, that should keep me going for quite some time.  I made a special attempt to leave the keys, which were from an Apple IIe keyboard, as is with the dirt and grime intact.  Amazingly, Apple keyboard keys were made with an insert that made them easy to slide in and out of the slots on the actual keyboard.  This is different from the other PCs where the  keys had a piece of plastic at the bottom that was part of the key itself and fit into a post on the keyboard.  These keys are a pain in the ass to use since you have to either sink them into the canvas or laboriously cut out the plastic coupler.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video clips and got to hear some golden oldies on YouTube.  I am ready to start on the next one. If you have any suggestions, spare parts, old records, anything, feel free to contribute and I will honor your contribution with a mention in my next rambling descriptive diatribe.