Issue 20, by visual artist Tauba Auerbach, takes the form of a 24-hour wall clock. Auerbach is known for creating work about language and logic through a variety of media. Her training as a traditional sign painter often informs her text-based work. For this issue, the artist designed the clock face and its 24 numerals. The clock’s mechanism runs from midnight to midnight, meaning the hands circle the clock once every 24 hours. This time keeping system, also known as military time or astronomical time, is the most commonly used numerical time notation in the world today, yet very few analog clocks employ a 24-hour mechanism.
Made entirely in the United States, the clean design of the clock features black aluminum hour and minute hands and Auerbach’s 24 gold-hued numerals against a clean white face. The clock measures 10.5 inches in diameter, can be hung up with a built-in hook, and is powered by a single AA battery (not included). THE THING and Ms. Auerbach collaborated with New York-based design team Assembly to design and manufacture this issue almost entirely from scratch.
Here is Tauba Auerbach’s statement about her choice to produce a 24-hour clock:
I've always had a very fraught relationship with time. I was born two weeks late, and I’ve been late to pretty much everything since. I relate to time in a totally illogical, fantasy-based way, and when I really start to think about it, I'm not sure I believe it “actually” exists. Why is it asymmetrical, running only in one direction? Or does it? Could it be an artifact of another spatial dimension? Could it be a circle or a surface rather than a line?
For the last few years I've been trying to become friends with time. Trying to be punctual, trying to see time as an ally rather than a foe. In a conversation with my friend Xylor a few years ago, I learned that she always finds extra time in her day, which is quite different from my experience. Upon parting ways I asked her to help me become friends with time. She then sent me a post card with some tips. One of them was to buy clocks that I like and display them prominently. I took this advice, and have since acquired a collection of interesting time pieces. One of my favorite purchases is a clock that has a 24-hour movement. I've found this one particularly helpful because it forces me to stop and think for an extra second or two when I’m reading the time. The hand positions are not what I'm used to, and I can’t just glance at it and know what time it is. I have think, to interact with time anew and at a little bit of a distance when I look at this clock, not as a familiar, problematic relative that I engage with lazily. I wanted to spread this experience out and make it more my own by designing my own 24 hour clock.
Auerbach’s Two Wire font figures prominently in the issue’s packaging scheme (also designed by Assembly), as well as on the clock back and in the issue’s promotional video, which you can watch here:
Issue 20 Tauba Auerbach Promo Video from THE THING Quarterly on Vimeo.
Tauba Auerbach creates art about language and logic through painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and instrument building. Her elegant, often mathematical compositions deconstruct the conventional ways visual and perceptual information is conveyed. In her paintings, Auerbach confronts the division between the discrete states of flatness and three-dimensionality, gesturing towards a theoretical escape from the latter. Auerbach's training as a traditional sign painter cultivated her love for words and letters; her text-based work is equally focused on the internal mechanics of language and its formal elements.
Assembly is the collaborative work of Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly. Founded in 2012, Assembly produces high quality objects with a forward-thinking aesthetic. Assembly values art and craft based practices. The more we can know and understand about materials, processes, and techniques, the more creative power we have. From one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and objects to small batch production and site-specific interior installations, Assembly's approach to design is interdisciplinary in spirit and process. Employing both traditional and experimental techniques, Oyler and Mattingly's work is fresh, thoughtful, and made with care.
Photos by Michael O’Neal