The Time of the Clock and the Time of Encounter: Pathfinders for Connection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Journalism and Digital Comms


This project investigates the difference between the time of the clock and the lived time of experience. We live in a world dominated by the time of the clock, yet many aspects of life have a different rhtyhm and temporality. The time of community, especially, is very often more complex and differentiated that standardised clock time. A co-inquiry of researchers from a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities and practioners in community organisations will explore ways by which communities can acquire a more open and diversified relation to time; they will approach this question both from a theoretical point of view as well as from a practice- and intervention-based point of view. As such the project will make a significant contribution to developing a concrete ethics and culture of temporal diversity.

The project is a co-inquiry between researchers and community organisations and the impact runs therefore in both ways: we aim to develop interventions that will enable communities to reflect on common assumptions about time, but also recognise that like any other community, the research and knowledge production community itself is driven by certain assumptions about time which are in need of examination, and so this project will also explore what the research community can learn from its engagement with other communities.

In addition to the theoretical research, the project contains three 'pathfinders' for community engagement on the issue of time:

1. This strand considers contextualisation of interventions on temporal diversity. What have alternative clocks looked like, such as the Doomsday Clock, the Clock of the Long Now and the 100 Months Clock, how have they affected communities, which methods, justifications and broader impacts do they have? What can we learn from previous community interventions by artists, art organisations but also others? The strand will consider both older and recent interventions.
2. The question of the diversity of time will also be explored in a community project about 'the score'. The score is a convergence between measured time (regular beat) and lived time (unique patterns of individual composition), expressed visually through the grid/frame in notation/drawing as the structural principle and the line as depicting movement. The experimental score (in music and the visual arts) is an embodiment of freedom within constraint, offering the potential for a different, variable relationship with time from the purely mechanical.
3. In a psychoanalytical study the experiences of children with time, and how ways of dealing with time can include and exclude, will be examined in the context of a Special Needs School. The importance of issues of temporality for the building of sustainable communities in which people can feel at home from an early age will be the focus here. The research and analytical findings will be connected to an artistic practice intervention on alternative clocks - clocks that measure different temporalities from normal clock time - which will be designed in collaboration with the school and will take place at the school (including a workshop for the school community).

Throughout the project the three strands will give input to each other, will learn from and reflect on each other's practice through regular workshops and will contribute to, and use the findings of, the theoretical research activity (co-inquiry).

The project will consist of research activity, exhibitions and interventions, an on-line forum and blog, workshops and a conference.

Planned Impact

(1) Research will reveal a hidden form of unfair discrimination, temporal discrimination, where those individuals who 'fall out' of clock time suffer from diminished social recognition and could be blamed for not contributing to communities where contributing is considered in economic terms and career climb. The research will create predispositions for increased appreciation of people who, immersed in the lived time mode, contribute to community cohesion by other means.
(2) Another category of people who will benefit are those whose social lives are shaped at the expense of an underestimated form of temporal deprivation whereby they are deprived of lived time, and may suffer from a lack of engagement in communities. The research will contribute towards diagnosing the problem and indicate paths towards a more diversified understanding of time and how such an understanding can shape individual lives and individual as well as communal well-being.
(3) Those involved in managing people in organisational contexts will be able to use and further develop the findings and pathfinder experiences to increase understanding of how different modes of time are integrated into the performance and well-being of people in the world of work and of children in school and other communities.
(4) Communities whose temporal cohesion is endangered will benefit, i.e. those communities that have been broken down as the current generation was forced or encouraged to dispense with those temporal aspects of community that assure its existence: cyclical events, traditions, rituals. The project will attempt to offer pathways for salvaging a community in terms of its lived time and learning how to sustain its 'lived time' practices in the conditions of market culture dominated by clock time.
(5) Policy makers will be able to use the findings and pathfinder experiences to assess policy initiatives that impact time management practices and temporal culture, at individual, local, regional and national level. The link between temporal diversification and mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, and the experience we will gather with ways of making communities more aware of this diversification, may help in gaining a more nuanced understanding of how failing community cohesion might be addressed in a policy context.


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Pschetz L (2015) Isn't it time to change the way we think about time? in Interactions

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Pschetz L (2018) Temporal Design: Rethinking time in design in Design Studies

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Siebers J (2012) Quietude and identity - The silent core of language in Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication

Title Clocks and Robots 
Description A clock with a printer attached to it that prints pictures taken by community members at different points in time. A set of programmable robots that can be made to move at different speeds, representing different experiences of the flow of time. We also produced a website that features a series of blog entries on clocks, coverage of the clock and robots workshops and a description of the sound and drawing workshops we have organised. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact These artefacts have been instrumental in changing the temporal culture in the community for which they were designed (a school) 
Description This project has helped us to understand better how much community cohesion and community well-being is influenced by the way communities understand and organise time - from the time of the working day to the time of the home or family, the time of the community as a whole and the time of individual personal encounters. We have developed ways in which communities can become more aware of their own 'cultures of time' and how they can work towards a more diversified awareness of how different experiences of time all play a role in the life of a community.
Exploitation Route Our engagement models can be, and have been, applied by other communities than the ones we worked with. A follow-on project has now started in one of our initial communities (Holmewood School). Our research has also been published in academic journals and books.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The findings of this project have been used to work with two communities in the form of engagements sessions about their cultures of temporality. Further, one element of the project has been rolled out to another community partner (outside of the project). Thirdly, follow-on funding leading to the development of a new type of school planner for use in secondary schools has been applied for and awarded.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description We participated in the Artists Legacy Project, PI Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/L013185/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 01/2015
Description Exhibition and workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We organised an exhibition wiht an interactive element and interactive music performances and a workshop, which allowed participants to experience and experiment with the relation between drawing, sounding and the experience of time.

This event was a significant part of the Scotland New Music Festival program that was staged in Woodend Barn, Aberdeenshire.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012