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TIME FLIES / 2022 

An interactive sound experience around our perception of time and sand. 

TIME FLIES is a sound sculpture commissioned by MUSICA for the sculpture park at Klankenbos, in Pelt, Belgium. It is an interactive sound sculpture that plays with our perception of time by using sand and sound as its main resource. The installation came about through a participatory research project, a collaboration between Studio Vallbo, Musica , the children of Vakantiehuis Akindo in Lommel and the Scoutsrally in Pelt. The artwork derives elements that refer to the working of a clock, but in this case the actual linear measurement of time is less relevant. Instead, the spectator is invited to give the work their time by setting it in motion using the surrounding sand. In our perception, time can move faster or slower, and sometimes even come to a (almost) complete standstill. By using sand to materialize the experience of time, our linear sense of time turns into an illusion; created mainly by our own thoughts. 

The installation is constructed to resemble a combination of an hourglass and a clock face. The upper hourglass cone of the installation can be filled manually using a bucket or with the "sand wheel" that is part of the installation. This manually controlled wheel contains six small cones that can be filled with sand. As soon as one of these cones hits 12 o'clock, the sand will fall into the upper hourglass cone. As the sand slides from the upper cone onto the lower cone, a kind of white noise emerges. At first glance consistent and monotonous, these sounds develop into a rich and diverse experience for those with a keen ear. Different weather factors that change the environment (such as wind or rain), will also have their influence on the nature of the sounds. The bottom cone is attached to a movable spring, light pressure can be applied to make the sound more dynamic and rhythmic. 




Sand has a greater part in our lives than we often imagine, pervading almost every aspect of our lives and our environment. It truly is the basis of our modern civilization. The walls around us probably contain concrete, and the windows in the same room are made of sand. Even the toothpaste you brush your teeth with and the silicon chips in our computers and smartphones contain sand. It is a fascinating thought that for many of us, our creativity first began to unfold in the sandbox.

Sand has many associations but it is perhaps most commonly associated with the passage of time. For example, the hourglass (also known as sandglass, sand timer, or sand clock) dates back to the Middle Ages and was used to measure time. Sand is also closely associated with construction and destruction - not only in the playground but also in our increasingly gentrified cities. It is a volatile substance that is difficult to hold, and is therefore often associated with volatility. We write our names in sand on the beach, to be washed away by the tide. The wind erases the footprints we make in sand. Sand represents the smallest of things, yet also infinity: the microcosm contained in a single grain juxtaposed against the infinity of a desert.

The project was supported and funded by the Flemish government of Lommel and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Thank you for making it possible!

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