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Pace Layering The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility

Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand discusses how the ability for ecological systems to respond to change and shock is facilitated by the relationship between components in a system. There are different time scales at play, and instead of the system breaking under stress like something brittle, they are flexible. He uses the example of the coniferous forest hierachy, how the forest is made up of the pine needle, tree crown, patch, stand, whole forest and biome. “The needle changes within a year, the crown over several years, the patch over many decades, the stand over a couple of centuries, the forest over a thousand years, and the biome over ten thousand years. The range of what the needle may do is constrained by the crown, which is constrained by the patch and stand, which are controlled by the forest, which is controlled by the biome.”

10,000 Year Clock

Long Now Foundation

The 10,000 year clock is a mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years, which started working on December 31 1999, just before the start of the new Millenium. The project was developed as part of the Long Now Foundation, which seeks to enhance ‘long-term’ thinking and therefore long term responsibility. In the words of Stewart Brand, "such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think.” There are three working prototypes of the clock in existence and currently the first full scale prototype is being developed and manufactured, which will be positioned in the Nevada Desert, Texas.

Rogue Waves1 & 2, Subsecond Flocks series

Femke Herregraven

The discrepancy between human and financial time is a reoccuring theme in the work of Femke Herregraven, focusing especially on High Frequency Trading. These ultra-fast financial transactions are given a material and tangible form by Femke. Taking inspiration from traditional tally sticks -such as bones and wooden sticks- that were used to convey value and record transactions, Femke created a series of engraved metal rods. Each piece referenced a specific event, illustrating when there was an illegal algorithmic intervention to the financial market, such as the faking of the of price of gold or stock manipulation.

Rice Child

Elaine Gan

In Elaine Gan’s work Rice Child, she maps the story of rice over its 2,000 year history. Beginning in the Mekong Delta, where the cultivation of champa rice enabled and supported the development of stable settlements. Taking the tracks- time of technology, matter, memory and the calendar year- Elaine weaves the story of specific varieties of rice and the role they had in socio-political formations and happenings, ending at the 2007-2008 food crisis. The work took the form of the long timeline, which could not be viewed in full from one position, viewers had to walk through time, tracing the narrative and discovering new connections.

Radioactive Waste


Radioactive waste in the Netherlands, annually is relatively low, but the treatment of the waste is incredibly important. CORVA is the only company in the Netherlands who has the licence to do so, they are able to deal with low and medium level risk and high risk material. In order to be able to treat this radioactive waste, COVRA has established a treatment and storage facility in the province of Zeeland, at the docks in Vlissingen-Oost. The total amount of radioactive waste produced over the next hundred years can easily be stored above ground at the COVRA site, after this time waste which is still radioactive will be moved to a deep below ground storage facility.


Christine Judith Nicholls

The concept widely known in English translation as 'The Dreamtime' or 'The Dreaming' has very different origins in the wide variety of languages used by Australian indigenous people. For example, as quoted in an article for 'The Conversation': In the language of the Warlpiri it is called the 'Jukurrpa'.

"Jeannie Herbert Nungarrayi, formerly a Warlpiri teacher at the Lajamanu School in the Tanami Desert of the Northern Territory: 'To get an insight into us, the Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert, it is necessary to understand something about our major religious belief, the Jukurrpa. The Jukurrpa is an all-embracing concept that provides rules for living, a moral code, as well as rules for interacting with the natural environment. The philosophy behind it is holistic – the Jukurrpa provides for a total, integrated way of life. It is important to understand that, for Warlpiri and other Aboriginal people living in remote Aboriginal settlements, The Dreaming isn’t something that has been consigned to the past but is a lived daily reality. We, the Warlpiri people, believe in the Jukurrpa to this day.

In this succinct statement Nungarrayi touched on the subtlety, complexity and all-encompassing, non-finite nature of the Jukurrpa.The Jukurrpa can be mapped onto micro-environments in specific tracts of land that Aboriginal people call 'country'.The Australian anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner conveyed the idea more accurately in his germinal 1956 essay The Dreaming, in which he coined the term 'everywhen': 'One cannot ‘fix’ The Dreaming in time: it was, and is, everywhen' wrote Stanner, adding that The Dreaming ' … has … an unchallengeable sacred authority'. Stanner went on to observe that: 'We [non-Indigenous Australians] shall not understand The Dreaming fully except as a complex of meanings'.