object — The Present Clock

This hand of this clock makes one rotation every 365 days.

Something like eight or nine years ago, I funded a Kickstarter campaign for a clock that Scott Thrift was making with a neat idea behind it — its single hand would make one full rotation every 365 days. It was called The Present. As a lover of clocks, it was a blind buy. The better part of a year later, I had one in my hands, and I gave it to my wife as a gift on our first wedding anniversary. It seemed like a perfect symbol for something we’d both want to measure in years.

Since then, The Present been sporadically available. Purely coincidentally, a new batch of Scott Thrift’s timepieces — this one and two others he created — became available again today. We have another of his clocks, Today — a 24-hour sunrise/sunset clock — hanging in our bedroom.

The Present clock hangs right by our front door. It’s a perfect spot for this kind of timepiece, because it becomes eye-level once we reach the foot of our stairs, it’s the last thing we see when we leave the house, and it’s visible from several rooms on our ground floor. That means we have countless opportunities to look at it every day. It helps me remember to slow down. It reminds me to let the wonder of living on this planet reach me; the busyness of living in this world is a constant obstacle to that.

This clock is designed to be a token to pull us out of the hallucination of modernity and back into the reality of the turning earth, seasons, colors, and nature.

I know how that sounds, but it’s true.

During his Kickstarter campaign, Scott would write very regular notes about the process of building these clocks. He would talk about the smallest details, and how essential they were to the experience he was trying to create for those who would own the clock. He labored over them, and it shows.

Every surface rewards your eye, from any distance. He wrote more than one letter about the gradient and how well various printing methods would reproduce it. I look at it this closely almost daily, and I often think about how worthwhile his effort was.

Every guest who has ever come and gone through our front door has commented on this clock. What is it? It’s not moving, is it? (It is, just very, very slowly.) How can I get one? (You probably can’t — at least not for much longer.) But once the novelty subsides, I know that regular guests get the same thing from it that I and my family do — a reminder: that the average person can hope to live to see just a few dozen rotations of its hand. A memento mori, maybe; for me, a memento vitae.

Written by Christopher Butler on May 16, 2023,   In Log

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