Take time to learn about time
August 13, 2012

davidclark350  David Clark approaches one of the sundials installed in Sir Sandford Fleming Park to access a story.

You can learn a lot about time if you’ve got a bit of time to spare.

NSCAD professor David Clark ruminates on technology, time and Sir Sandford Fleming’s contribution to standardized time in a public art project, Meantime in Greenwich.

Fittingly, the project is set up in Sir Sandford Fleming Park, the 95-acre park which was part of the Scotch inventor’s original estate along Halifax’s North West Arm. It brings together technologies both old and new—sundials and smart phones.

On a recent sunny afternoon, Prof. Clark provided a guided tour of Meantime in Greenwich. At each of 24 sundials set up through the waterfront park, viewers can access audio files exploring one aspect of time—NSCAD folks will recognize the sonorous voice of Neil Thompson, manager of NSCAD’s Art Supply Store, who tells the tales.

The sundials are situated to tell time as accurately possible. Prof. Clark got some assistance from his father, Dr. Alan Clark, an astronomer and Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary.

“The special sauce,” says Prof. Clark, “are the 3D objects—virtual sculptures if you will—which can be seen with your smart phone.”

Audio files can be downloaded via meantimeingreenwich.net. A specially developed iPhone app will soon be available. The installation will be up in the park for a year.

“I’m very much interested in nonlinear storytelling,” says Prof. Clark, Chair of NSCAD’s Media Arts Division. His narrative artwork for the web, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the left hand), is also told in fragments. “The idea is that you can walk around the park, and the stories will start playing as approach each sundial. Even though they’re numbered one to 24, you can listen to them in any order. Together, you’ll get a full picture of Sir Sandford Fleming and his time period.”

Meantime in Greenwich was launched on the 100th anniversary of Dingle Tower, which was commissioned by Fleming to commemorate the establishment of representative government in Nova Scotia.

LINKS: Meantime in Greenwich | David Clark's website

clock-350  One of the 24 sundials that can be found in Sir Sandford Fleming Park.