photoclock (2005)

What is worth photographing? A picnic, a fountain, a zoo, flying a model aircraft, caring for your baby, your sports team, a flower, falling over, a puppy, preparing lunch, going to a party, a walk in a forest, your car, your wedding, a day at the beach, an amazing building, a beautiful landscape, returning home from holiday

Photoclock is a web piece that gives you the world’s (or at least the web’s) answer to this question. Exploring ideas of memory, of time, of ritual, of cultural commonality, and the relationship of these ideas to Internet archiving, Photoclock shows, for each minute of the day, a set of photographs that were taken at that precise moment.

As you watch the computer screen, you discover what other people all over the world were doing at that exact time of day that they thought was worth photographing and uploading to the Internet. ...

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What is worth photographing? A picnic, a fountain, a zoo, flying a model aircraft, caring for your baby, your sports team, a flower, falling over, a puppy, preparing lunch, going to a party, a walk in a forest, your car, your wedding, a day at the beach, an amazing building, a beautiful landscape, returning home from holiday

Photoclock is a web piece that gives you the world’s (or at least the web’s) answer to this question. Exploring ideas of memory, of time, of ritual, of cultural commonality, and the relationship of these ideas to Internet archiving, Photoclock shows, for each minute of the day, a set of photographs that were taken at that precise moment.

As you watch the computer screen, you discover what other people all over the world were doing at that exact time of day that they thought was worth photographing and uploading to the Internet. As the grid of 60 images is completed (one for each minute in each hour) the colours and the activities in the photos change slowly as morning turns to afternoon, afternoon to evening, and evening to night time.

Viewers of Photoclock describe the piece as engrossing and therapeutic. They report a strong sense of connectedness between themselves and the anonymous people who took these photos. It’s fascinating to know what other people were doing at the exact time of day that you are looking at it, it’s charming to discover the universally common categories of snapshots that become evident as you watch, and it’s marvellous to discover that there is at least one photo in the world for every minute of the day.

Photoclock is intended to be viewed on-line and requires a permanent fast internet connection. It can be exhibited in a screen-based form or projected. The piece was written in Flash using Yahoo! web services. The photographs are found at the start of each minute using Yahoo! image search, finding filenames with the correct timestamp from the digital cameras with which they were taken.

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