Anti-clockwise: Building a critical mass against clock time

Helga Schmid, Kevin Walker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    ‘Uchronian Critical Mass’ exploits the historical opportunity the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantines have opened up to question societal time systems, which can conflict with natural rhythms, leading to adverse effects on mental and physical health. We describe an experiment in which participants step outside societal time, choose their own time-giver and live by it for up to one week. As an experiment in artistic research grounded in science, we specifically enlisted fellow artists and asked them to document their experiment using any chosen means. The results included unexpected social and spiritual qualities, evidenced increased concentration and productivity, and drew attention to aspects of societal time generally taken for granted by introducing non-linear temporal elements. The experiment impacted each artist’s working practices and subsequent work. Collectively, the results show the potential of artistic practice to influence a broader questioning of societal time through multisensory means, highlighting the unique role artists hold as outsiders to lead the way in forming creative approaches to social and political issues.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-61
    Number of pages23
    JournalArt & the Public Sphere
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Kevin Walker works across art, design, technology and anthropology, exploring natural and computational systems through artistic and curatorial practice. He is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University, and a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Interactive Architecture Lab at University College London. Previously, he ran the Information Experience Design MA programme at the Royal College of Art in London, and the Information Environments MRes programme at University of the Arts London. His research has been funded by the European Union and United Kingdom, and he has produced work for exhibitions and commissions since 2000. Author of Hackers & Slackers (2012), co-editor of Interior Futures (2019) and Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience (2008), he holds a BA in Anthropology and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley; an

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Intellect Ltd Article. English language.


    • COVID-19
    • Zeitgeber
    • experiment
    • quarantine
    • time
    • uchronia

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
    • Cultural Studies


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      Walker, K. & Schmid, H., 20 Feb 2023, (Accepted/In press).

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