The Clock has been a favorite premise for computational artists and designers for years. Earlier this week, I lectured on new-media clocks for my intermediate creative coding students at CMU, to prepare them for their own Clock Assignment. I learned the Clock Assignment from my teacher, John Maeda, and, in the folkloric spirit of good assignments, I now pass it on to the next generation.
John Maeda’s classic 12 o’clocks were developed in 1996-97 for Classic Mac OS. Viewing this elegant software on a modern computer requires running it in an OS9 emulator, such as SheepShaver, which can be tricky to configure. I’ve captured some animated GIFs of these artworks to save you some time.
Many of Maeda’s clock experiments play at the analog-digital boundary: a “grandfather clock” whose pendulum swings pixellated numerals to and fro; a digital clock whose pixels are in fact, “analog” (circular) clock faces. Others, like his simulation of Conway’s Life as seeded by the pixels from a clock’s numerals, wholly inhabit the digital realm. 12 o’clocks is in the permanent collection of MoMA. I wonder if they maintain an OS9 machine on which to run it? Ben Fino-Radin would know.