Project type

Autonomous work

As seen in

Allegory of the South

We all know clocks that indicate the time, but a clock that embodies impermanence? Unlike other clocks, The Time is Ticking has an expiration date. One that is synchronized with that of its owner. In about eighty years the only thing that's left, is the timepiece. Somehow it's funny that, precisely what time indicates, is not itself burdened by the consequences of the passage of time. 

People get old visibly: we get wrinkles, walk crooked, eventually, perhaps not at all. The Time is Ticking goes through the same process. Atelier van Asseldonk investigated how many woodworms it would take to make the oak housing of the clock disappear to the last fiber in about eighty years. Exactly the duration of an average human life.

When the case has perished and the timepiece lands on the gold leaf base, it will continue to work and outlive us all.

To ensure that the woodworms that slowly devour the clock cannot escape, the clock is placed under a custom glass bell jar
Photo by Gijs Spierings

The clock and the bell jar rest on a gold-plated base. At first the foot will shine with newness, but as time passes and the clock fades, wood residues and woodworms will take away the shine of the gold.

Photo by Gijs Spierings

Foto: Gijs Spierings

The woodworms will 'carve' their way through the wood, sometimes until death do us part. The transformed worms take their place on the gold plated base.

Photo by Gijs Spierings

We researched how many woodworms it would take to devour the wooden casing in more or less eighty years (which reflects the average life expectancy of an owner). When the timepiece drops from the demolished casing, it causes the connection to the winding mechanism to break and stops the clock. In this work, popular advertising claims like ‘this product will last you a lifetime’ are juxtaposed to the biblical aphorism ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity’, 

This points to the shallowness of things that are not what they seem, and do not perform what they promise. The concept of vanitas was often depicted in 17th century still-lives, showing skulls, withering flowers, soap bubbles, overturned glasses, decayed books and clocks.

Photo by Gijs Spierings

Since no woodworm is guided, each clock will show unique patterns of a feeding frenzy, as time goes by. Slowly but surely, the insects make the beating heart of the clock - the timepiece - visible from the outside.

Photo by Gijs Spierings

Photo by Gijs Spierings

Photo by Gijs Spierings