detail of National Times

Artist: Agustina Woodgate
installation | Clocks, hardware, and sanding twigs, dimensions variable. | 2016

National Times is a closed-circuit network of clocks synchronized directly by the power grid. Since the Industrial Revolution, schools, factories, hospitals, and offices have used this kind of network architecture— referred to as a “master/slave” configuration—to keep consistent time. A single digital master clock sends power signals to a series of analog slave clocks, commanding synchronized measure across an entire institution. The master keeps steady time based on a pulse transmitted directly from the local power grid, whose frequency is aligned with the atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which establishes official United States time. In her work, the hands of the slave clocks have been outfitted with sandpaper. As National Times progresses, the minute hands of the slave clocks scrape away the numerals on their faces until they are completely erased. Conditioned by the current state of labor and power, the slave clocks progressively erode their functional value, collectively reclaiming autonomy in the process of disintegration. (Image courtesy the artist and Spinello Projects, Miami. Photograph by Jesus Petroccini)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)