Work » Projects » work divided by time 2012

work divided by time engages with the cultural concepts of power, energy, and time. The installation derives its inspiration in part from the intricate work of the Bily Brothers, who, working by candlelight and nestled within the Czech community of Spillville, Iowa, constructed mechanical clocks depicting the world reflected to them by newspaper and other printed publications at the beginning of the twentieth century. work divided by time creatively evokes the work of the Bily Brothers – clearly of a different era – to form a reflective space.

work divided by time employs a very simple mechanism, that of the traditional holiday toy, the Christmas pyramid. Twelve small turbines are driven through convection from the heat generated by burning candles. Each metal turbine intersects with a small switch, briefly closing a circuit. The closed circuit then allows a sine tone to briefly punctuate the atmosphere. The dirty connection in combination with the irregularities in the blades of the fan and movement create moments of percussive periodicity amongst the twelve different modules. Each module is assigned a specific pitch, derived from the bells of one of the Bily Brothers early clocks.

Special thanks to collaborator and technical assistant Néstor Prieto, the Astronomy Department of Wesleyan University, as well as Kate Ten Eyck, Bruce Strickland, and David Strickland. Thank you to the Center for the Arts and the Music Department at Wesleyan, and Kate Klimesh and Carole Riehle of the Bily Clocks Museum for making the recordings of the clocks possible. work divided by time was commissioned by the Center for the Arts as a part of Feet to the Fire: Fueling the Future, made possible by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and with support from The Bily Clocks Museum in Spillville, Iowa.


Néstor Prieto · Technical Assistance, Woodworking
Bily Brothers Clocks Museum ·
Wesleyan Center for the Arts - Feet to the Fire ·