Dum Spectas Fugio

[Recording by NakedEye Ensemble forthcoming]

Human progress is driven by our ability to measure time. Large-scale measurements of seasons made agriculture possible. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity informs us that time doesn’t move at the same speed for everyone, making global positioning satellites possible. The measurement of time provides infinite opportunities for progress.

That’s the optimistic thing about looking at a clock.

 

On the clock face, however, there is often inscribed a reminder that our existence on earth is a limited-time offer. The saying Dum Spectas Fugio mocks the clock user for using the clock. As you watch, I flee. There are better ways to use your time than standing there watching it leak away, the clock seems to say with a smirk.

Using recordings of clocks from the National Clock and Watch Museum in Columbia, PA, and loading them into a sampling keyboard, I create a sort of “prepared” ensemble with certain clock sounds tied to certain notes on certain instruments. The effect is at first optimistic and innocent. The piece grows more frantic as the instruments assert more independence from the clock sounds. Then the piece grows heavier, less optimistic, and murkier as it continues.

Then the piece stops. But time doesn’t.

Duration: ca13'30"
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