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The Clock(s) of A Drawing and the Hermetic Time-Reader/Teller: Dreaming of Drawingdials and the Enigmatic Hour(s) of A Drawing

E. Bahar Avanoglu


The alluring thought of experiencing more than one sunset in a single day does not only refer to the curious wonders of the inconsistency of our unstable, mobile spatio-temporal situatedness within the universe, but perhaps also to the curious apparentness of the non-linearity of the perception of time. We encounter such a profound occasion in Roger Ackling’s Five Sunsets in One Hour (1978):[i] A gentle walk on a hill triggers the horizon to accompany and move along with the walker, thus multiplying the sunset that could be experienced in a single day. While the walker doubles herself/himself as the ‘time-reader’ and marks each sunset on the paper manifesting the plurality of the sunset, her/his relationally changing situatedness paradoxically renders each sunset ‘unique’.

The historical trajectories of the act of ‘reading the time’ passes beyond looking at a ticking clock, thus also beyond a purely mathematical calculation and mechanical construct. It is also not a mere coordinational matter set between the world and the universe, but it also includes ‘us’ as ‘the hermetic reader/teller/writer’ as an inherent part of it. Sundials and astrolabes manifest the existence of this ‘hermetic time-reader’ primarily as an engraved ‘drawing’ on earth, paper or portable plates. These ‘time-telling drawing’(instrument)s are in fact the result of an embodied reading of the universe, which in turn become ‘projective’ reading machines; in Daniel Libeskind’s terms, one of the three lessons of architecture.[ii] Constantly compelling interpretive narratives from the ‘reader’, these sundials could be considered in a broader framework as ‘divination’ machines, calling for variegated horoscopic narratives.

Does this contemplation not seduce us secretly to think of the possibility of ‘a clock of a drawing’? In order to explore the curious spatio-temporal, embodied practice of divination of a drawing through the act of drawing, and also in order to unfold ‘us’ - ‘the drawer’ as the integral ‘hermetic reader’ in the drawing, we decided to work on this question speculatively in our elective course in the fall semester 2021-2022. Our project of ‘the clock(s) of a drawing’ started firstly as an embodied reading of a selected drawing through variegated projective methods. In due course, the projective cast of drawing demonstrated itself not as a static construct, but as a ritualistic and poetic act – as drawingdials. These projective drawingdials, with the ‘hermetic drawers’ as a part of them, are constantly re-read and re-written, almost transforming themselves into enigmatic drawing-instruments.

Is it not possible to speak of the enigmatic hours of a drawing? Perhaps, yes, it may be possible: the hours of a drawing are crystallized within the projective and embodied languages and constructions of drawing itself, as we can see quite poetically in John Hejduk’s The Collapse of Time (1984).[iii]

[i] https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ackling-five-sunsets-in-one-hour-t03562

[ii] https://libeskind.com/work/cranbrook-machines/

[iii] Hejduk, J., The Collapse of Time: Diary Constructions, AA Publications, 1987.

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