Pocket Sundial, 1700s

T. G. Kleininger
active Germany
pocket sundial, 1700s
wood
The Dr. Maurice L. Jones Timepiece Collection, 1952.0063

Similar to how Ann Hamilton and Cynthia Schira required time and fabric to materialize An Errant Line, this pocketsundial sundial required fabric (in the form of string) to tell time. With it, as with the works by Hamilton and Schira, cloth and time interact in space.

This 18th-century sundial used technology made obsolete by the increasingly common pocket watch, but it offered what later clocks did not: a sense of where you are. The user of this early timepiece would have opened the small wooden case to reveal the dial and compass, then aligned the ‘style’ (a fabric string that held each side together) exactly with the Earth’s axis to determine the time. Unlike clocks that allowed passive interiority, this sundial required an outdoor location and a tactile sense of positioning.

The sundial’s requisite manipulations made time tangible, and its reliance on the environment heightened users’ awareness of their location and enveloping surroundings. In this object and the two artists’ installation, fabric and time allowed for an engagement with place.

Joel Coon, History of Art undergraduate major

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