Thrift has unified these three very slow clocks into a sort of retroactive trilogy called The Present. (In doing do, he’s also renamed that first clock as “Year” and second clock as “Day.”) The goal with each release has been to challenge people’s modern perception of time.

“We’re kind of off balance with time for a reason,” Thrift says. “We’re looking at it in just one sort of linear, industrialized way. We’re totally missing the whole natural world.”

Got the Time

For Thrift, clocks are both the products and enforcers of a society that values progress, productivity, and capital above all else. But that’s not to say our understanding of time is all wrong. Time may be a construct, but at least it’s a reliable one.

“Time is non-physical, it’s like this entity now,” Thrift says. “It gives us a place to build or grow and cultivate something new. It’s like this layer that we can make things happen on top of. Time, and the way that we look at it now, is the crowning achievement of human civilization, because everybody agrees on it.”

The artist with his time machines.

Photograph: Scott Thrift

While perhaps not as divisive or prone to debate as some basic facts are these days, our collective sense of time has become muddled during this period of prolonged quarantine. Covid-19 has caused us to rethink some very fundamental aspects of our society—why not the passage of time as well? Instead of the dread-inducing activity that is watching the seconds tick away (or drag on), Thrift wants people to look at a clock and be encouraged.

“Right now we’re living in the long-term effects of short-term thinking. I don’t think it’s possible really for us to commonly think long term if the way that we tell time is with a short-term device that just shows the seconds, minutes, and hours. We’re precluded to seeing things in the short term.”

Thrift posits that society’s perception of time pre-Covid was on constant fast forward as people rushed between jobs, family duties, and … whatever else we did in the Before Times. Now, Thrift says, society is on pause. When the pandemic finally lets up—whenever in the future that will actually be—time may start to feel normal again. At least, however we decide to define normal then.

“It’s a terrible time to release this clock,” Thrift says. “But at the same time it’s the best time ever, because with all of this shake-up that’s happening, it’s going to be so easy to adopt a new way of looking at time.”

Like Thrift’s other two clocks, Moon is being funded through Kickstarter. You can make your way there—slowly—by clicking here.

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