Torsten Lauschmann: Digital Clock
Artist, photographer, film-maker and live performer Torsten Lauschmann was born in Bad Soden, Germany, in 1970 and now lives in Glasgow. His work Digital Clock, featured here on The Space, is a timepiece that runs in real time on the site. In his own words, Lauschmann explains the thinking behind his work.
Digital Clock (2010) is a 24 hour-long film and a fully-functioning clock. It was initially made for an artist-run venue at the 2010 Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. The work is a continuation of my first 24 hour-long film, Growing Zeros (2008).
Both films play with the synchronisation of the film time and the viewers’ actual real-time. I also wanted to play with the contradictions between experiencing a film/artwork and the simple purpose-driven act of reading the time. In this way the work can be perceived as a highly symbolic act or as a banality.
On another level, I attempted to play with the idea of progress and time-saving technologies in relation to physical labour. All the digits of the digital clock are hand-crafted and painted wooden blocks which were animated by my hands to “keep up” with the progression of time. Digital Clock has been installed in a variety of public and private locations over the last two years. This is the first time that it is temporarily available as a fully functioning online work.
Further information about Lauschmann and his other works can be explored on his website.
Andy Armstrong of The Space, who built the online version of Lauschmann’s clock, explains how it was adapted for web use.
We chopped the 24 hours of Digital Clock into chunks of video which lasted eight seconds and built a player that would check the current time on your computer, then fetch the appropriate chunk of video and play it. While each chunk is playing, the next segment is fetched from the servers. This lets us jump to the right time and then play continuously. The clock should show the correct time to within a second.
Because different operating systems and browsers have differing support for video formats, we used two different technologies to stream the video chunks.
If you’re using an Apple iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) you will get the HTTP Live Streaming version. Everyone else gets a version of the clock that uses HTTP Dynamic Streaming. HLS and HDS are two competing standards for chunked video streaming. They do the same thing in different ways. Interestingly there’s no practical limit to how long the video can be.
Having worked out how to serve 24 hours of video why stop there? Maybe Lauschmann can do a year-long animated calendar next…