Stereochron Island. A place outside ordinary time
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WELCOME TO STEREOCHRON
Imagine an island without clocks. Its people tell time by the movement of shadows, the pattern of birdsong, the swelling of buds. But often they forget about time altogether, lingering in its gardens, daydreaming on its winding paths, playing in its fields. This is a place set apart from ordinary time. This is Stereochron Island.     
  
Stereochron is an independent territory whose location in the Solar System exactly matches that of Victoria Park in East London (see About).
Its island commonwealth protects varieties of time that may be under threat of extinction by the mechanical clock, particularly in surrounding dominions. Stereochron is therefore campaigning to become officially recognised as a State Without Clocks. 
To support this effort, Stereochron commissioned a series of field studies from independent experts to investigate the rarer kinds of time sheltered by its unusual habitat. These took place between April and August 2014 (see Events).
This blog is written by our campaign secretary. It documents the field studies and offers ideas and opinion pieces. Through it, we hope to influence others to join us in finding alternatives to the mechanical clock.  
 
[Map image: via]

WELCOME TO STEREOCHRON

Imagine an island without clocks. Its people tell time by the movement of shadows, the pattern of birdsong, the swelling of buds. But often they forget about time altogether, lingering in its gardens, daydreaming on its winding paths, playing in its fields. This is a place set apart from ordinary time. This is Stereochron Island.     

  

Stereochron is an independent territory whose location in the Solar System exactly matches that of Victoria Park in East London (see About).

Its island commonwealth protects varieties of time that may be under threat of extinction by the mechanical clock, particularly in surrounding dominions. Stereochron is therefore campaigning to become officially recognised as a State Without Clocks. 

To support this effort, Stereochron commissioned a series of field studies from independent experts to investigate the rarer kinds of time sheltered by its unusual habitat. These took place between April and August 2014 (see Events).

This blog is written by our campaign secretary. It documents the field studies and offers ideas and opinion pieces. Through it, we hope to influence others to join us in finding alternatives to the mechanical clock.  

 

[Map image: via]

DUSK FALLS ON STEREOCHRON: THE FINAL FIELD STUDY

Our field studies began with the Spring dawn chorus. We completed them at dusk on Vertumnalia, the ancient celebration of seasonal change. 

The model for our final field study came from one of the BBC’s first outdoor radio broadcasts: on 19 May 1924 millions of people listened in on the private exchange at twilight between the cellist Beatrice Harrison and the wild nightingales in her Surrey garden. As she played Londonderry Air the nightingales appeared to join in, almost suggesting a kind of synchrony between human- and bird-time.

In Harrison’s performances, however, birdsong largely gave ornamentation to a fixed and familiar human tune. So, for our final field study, we planned an experiment that dismantles that order of relationship. We invited cellist Natalie Rozario to respond to the unpredictable sounds and rhythms at dusk on the Island as they happen, to see if she could draw our senses into synchrony, into a shared present, with the non-human. 

On 13 August 2014 a hundred of us gathered near the Pagoda on the lake isle to hear Rozario’s duet with the dusk. This is the video of her experiment:

WATCH AND LISTEN HERE 

Please note, the sound is designed to be listened to with headphones.

 

IMAGES

Top: Beatrice Harrison performing with nightingales at dusk.

Btm: Natalie Rozario performing Dusk Falls on Stereochron, Aug 2014. Photo: Mark Blower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE STEREOCHRON MANIFESTO
This is the transcript of the four declarations made at our last campaign event, Dusk Falls on Stereochron, on the evening of Vertumnalia 2014. The declarations draw together the core ideas, experiments and field study findings recorded on this blogsite.
 
1. WE REFUSE TO REDUCE LIFE TO UNITS OF THE CLOCK 
Back when we were growing up in the Monochronic states, we were taught that Time is an absolute, pure, universal entity: a kind of cosmic line-rule against which everything can be measured in units of the clock. That monochronic line of time has morphed into a racetrack on which we all compete to chase the artificial hares of abstract deadlines, social accolades and material accumulation. 
On Stereochron we believe that model misrepresents our internal experience of time. The memories that make us don’t form a neat hierarchy, but rise and sink in a sea that continually connects in new formations the old and new, the half-forgotten and the ever-present. Each of us contains an inner territory whose glorious fluidity and depth can’t be measured by a machine that records time as a cash-till registers pennies. 
We need another model to resist the notion that our life can be plotted and rated against a line. Therefore on Stereochron we defer to the ancient Stoic philosophers for whom every individual life is a perfect circle, regardless of its content. To value a life by its external quantities would have seemed faulty to the Stoics. And so it does to us. 
 
2. WE BELIEVE THAT TO UNFETTER TIME, WE MUST FETTER THE CLOCK
Out there in the Monochronic states, we force ourselves to match the unrelenting, unchanging beat of the clock. But the only things that beat to clock-time are machines. 
On Stereochron we recall that the clock was once a sundial: its hour hand is now a solidified sunshadow severed from its source, circling a miniature mechanical Earth. We demand that this idealised, abstract, rigid form be anchored back into the unruly matter of life. 
Therefore on Stereochron we have returned to local solar time, marking hours and days by the irregular relationship of our tiny boot-shaped portion of Earth to the Sun. By doing this, we have begun to see how everything and everyone is a solar clock. We are umbilically connected to the Sun. Its shifting shadows pull us through time, immersing us in the flux of life. At night the Moon and stars form another set of clocks, bringing another sense of time entirely.
 
3. WE WILL BUILD A RICHER VOCABULARY OF TIME
A core initiative of our campaign is to expand and refine the Island’s word-stock for time. This is so we can lay description and detail over the blunt and content-less language of hours, minutes and seconds. 
To that end we have done away with chilling abstractions like the word deadline, originally the prison camp term for the limit a detainee crosses on pain of death. In place of such terms, we have embraced a new vocabulary that includes:

ZUGENRUHE – the German word for the internal restlessness that tugs at birds to return to their nesting grounds for Spring. 
HANAMI – the Japanese ritual of following the wave of tree blossom as the Spring thaw moves North.
GIBBOUS – an English word derived from the Latin for hunchback. It describes the bulbous form of the Moon rising above us just now.

 
4. WE WILL LEARN TO TELL TIME WITHOUT MACHINES
On Stereochron, we’re training our eye over the course of the day to the length and orientation of shadows, to the slow shaking shift of the horse chestnut leaf, and to the colour variations of the sky. We’re becoming more sensitive to the scent of new blooms. And we’re adapting our ear to the layers and patterns of birdsong. These time-markers give shape and meaning to our days and nights. To us on Stereochron they’re like the Muezzin’s call and the church peal.
So what time is it now? 
Sometimes near here a group of starlings comes to roost, rising and falling together in liquid shapes in the last rays of the Sun. Like them we too can feel day tipping into night. As the light changes, our body chemistry is changing too. Our colour perception is dimming, but details at the edges of vision are getting sharper. Our skin sensitivity is beginning to peak. The air is cooling and sounds are carrying further. These signs are all bells intoning dusk as the Sun slides below the sky-rim. 




 
 
 
 
Image: The Stereochron flag on the gates of the Island. Photo: Maria Eisl.

 
 




 
 
 




 
 
 




 
 
 




 
 
 




 
 
 




 
 
 
 

THE STEREOCHRON MANIFESTO

This is the transcript of the four declarations made at our last campaign event, Dusk Falls on Stereochron, on the evening of Vertumnalia 2014. The declarations draw together the core ideas, experiments and field study findings recorded on this blogsite.

 

1. WE REFUSE TO REDUCE LIFE TO UNITS OF THE CLOCK 

Back when we were growing up in the Monochronic states, we were taught that Time is an absolute, pure, universal entity: a kind of cosmic line-rule against which everything can be measured in units of the clock. That monochronic line of time has morphed into a racetrack on which we all compete to chase the artificial hares of abstract deadlines, social accolades and material accumulation. 

On Stereochron we believe that model misrepresents our internal experience of time. The memories that make us don’t form a neat hierarchy, but rise and sink in a sea that continually connects in new formations the old and new, the half-forgotten and the ever-present. Each of us contains an inner territory whose glorious fluidity and depth can’t be measured by a machine that records time as a cash-till registers pennies. 

We need another model to resist the notion that our life can be plotted and rated against a line. Therefore on Stereochron we defer to the ancient Stoic philosophers for whom every individual life is a perfect circle, regardless of its content. To value a life by its external quantities would have seemed faulty to the Stoics. And so it does to us. 

 

2. WE BELIEVE THAT TO UNFETTER TIME, WE MUST FETTER THE CLOCK

Out there in the Monochronic states, we force ourselves to match the unrelenting, unchanging beat of the clock. But the only things that beat to clock-time are machines. 

On Stereochron we recall that the clock was once a sundial: its hour hand is now a solidified sunshadow severed from its source, circling a miniature mechanical Earth. We demand that this idealised, abstract, rigid form be anchored back into the unruly matter of life. 

Therefore on Stereochron we have returned to local solar time, marking hours and days by the irregular relationship of our tiny boot-shaped portion of Earth to the Sun. By doing this, we have begun to see how everything and everyone is a solar clock. We are umbilically connected to the Sun. Its shifting shadows pull us through time, immersing us in the flux of life. At night the Moon and stars form another set of clocks, bringing another sense of time entirely.

 

3. WE WILL BUILD A RICHER VOCABULARY OF TIME

A core initiative of our campaign is to expand and refine the Island’s word-stock for time. This is so we can lay description and detail over the blunt and content-less language of hours, minutes and seconds. 

To that end we have done away with chilling abstractions like the word deadline, originally the prison camp term for the limit a detainee crosses on pain of death. In place of such terms, we have embraced a new vocabulary that includes:

ZUGENRUHE – the German word for the internal restlessness that tugs at birds to return to their nesting grounds for Spring. 

HANAMI – the Japanese ritual of following the wave of tree blossom as the Spring thaw moves North.

GIBBOUS – an English word derived from the Latin for hunchback. It describes the bulbous form of the Moon rising above us just now.

 

4. WE WILL LEARN TO TELL TIME WITHOUT MACHINES

On Stereochron, we’re training our eye over the course of the day to the length and orientation of shadows, to the slow shaking shift of the horse chestnut leaf, and to the colour variations of the sky. We’re becoming more sensitive to the scent of new blooms. And we’re adapting our ear to the layers and patterns of birdsong. These time-markers give shape and meaning to our days and nights. To us on Stereochron they’re like the Muezzin’s call and the church peal.

So what time is it now? 

Sometimes near here a group of starlings comes to roost, rising and falling together in liquid shapes in the last rays of the Sun. Like them we too can feel day tipping into night. As the light changes, our body chemistry is changing too. Our colour perception is dimming, but details at the edges of vision are getting sharper. Our skin sensitivity is beginning to peak. The air is cooling and sounds are carrying further. These signs are all bells intoning dusk as the Sun slides below the sky-rim. 

 

 

 

 

Image: The Stereochron flag on the gates of the Island. Photo: Maria Eisl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKING THE STEREOCHRON SHADOW CLOCK

Some time has passed since the Island’s mechanical clock was stopped and turned into a monument to the old regime. Our next project was to build an alternative timekeeper for Stereochron. 

We had committed to making a timepiece that keeps local time for Stereochron. In other words, we wanted to live by solar time, not the idealised measurements of GMT, which are abstracted from living processes. We decided to make a sundial made from something that already exists, to remind us that everything that casts a shadow is a kind of solar clock. 

We found our readymade timekeeper in the form of the leaning hornbeam by the old Island clock. It points roughly north in the direction the Sun throws shadows at noon, that is, when it has reached its highest point in the sky above our tiny portion of the Earth.

The tree is tilted at an angle of about 51 degrees from the northern horizon. This is the Island’s approximate degree of latitude, and means the tree is aligned with the Earth’s axis.

That happy combination of orientation and tilt means the tree is an ideal gnomon or shadow maker for a sundial that works all year. All we needed to add were the hour markers. We made these from treefall found on the Island and Hackney City Farm. 

To make the tree clock, we ran 12 strings radiating from its upper trunk to the ground. We began with the middle string taking a line north. Every other string was oriented 15 degrees from the next, which is how far the Earth turns each hour. Then we ran a second set of strings from the base of the tree to meet the first strings where they reached the ground. (The second set made the shape of the Stereochron flag). Finally we pushed the pegs into the earth under the second strings, with noon at north, 6am east and 6pm west. We positioned the pegs in semicircle so they would always meet the shadow of the tree trunk. 

To make a shadow clock of your own, there are instructions at Sundials.co.uk. The Island’s new timekeeper is much like Project 3. You can also find a wealth of information at the British Sundial Society site.

For committed citizens who wish to convert digital screens to solar time, we recommend the Snap app, which gives you a shadow clock for wherever you are.

PS If you’re marking out a sundial on someone else’s property, legally you’ll need their permission first. 

  

 

 

 

Log-sourcing and peg-turning: 11 x master craftsman Dan Wynde, 1 x Cathy Haynes.

Geometry adviser: Linus Kraemer.

 

 

 

 

CAUTIONARY NOTICES FOR CLOCK-USERS

The Stereochron citizenry has come to recognise that there are some instances in which we are required to keep standard time.

Where a mechanical timepiece is essential, we recommend placing one of these cautionary signs next to it.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHEEP’S EYE CLOCK

In preparation for our final field study, Dusk Falls on Stereochron (13 August), we’ve been investigating a dusk-blooming plant. Here’s a further addition to Stereochron’s alternative clock.

It’s said that shepherds can tell the time of day by the shape of their flock’s pupils: narrow and pill-shaped by day, turning spherical at dusk. Last weekend the campaign secretary went off the Island to a farm to test this. She took the first of these photos at the start of twilight and the second 50mins later when the light was fading quickly. 

Some local people recall being lulled to sleep as children by the distant bleating of sheep on the Island as night fell. This and the sheep’s potential role in the Stereochron clock are reasons alone to bring a resident flock back to the Island after an absence of some sixty years. 

EVENING PRIMROSE CLOCK
The evening primrose (Oenothera) is a clock. This video shows in real time how it blooms at the close of day, like a bell intoning dusk as the Sun slides toward the horizon. If you watch carefully, you’ll see how it beats the time twice with a less expected burst of movement following the flower’s unfurling. 
WATCH HERE (4 mins)
The bloom will only last a night. It’ll give off a delicate scent till the morning. Towards noon this particular variety of evening primrose (Lemon Sunset) is burned by the Sun into a deepening orange-pink. Throughout the day the gradual colour shift of the shrinking bloom displays the time. Then the next new flower will trumpet that definite moment once again: the edge of day tipping into night.
The campaign secretary made this video as part of Stereochron’s field studies into ways to tell the time without a clock. She notes that the primrose flowers on alternate years and blooms on alternate nights. The plant’s stem grows as the Summer lengthens to make room for each new bud. Below that sits the previous bloom’s seedpod. And the one before, beneath that. And so on. The pods can be counted back to the first bloom in early Summer. In effect the plant is a calendar, each seedpod a little memorial to an individual evening. 
As Summer ends, the seedpods begin to burst one by one, starting with the earliest to form. In effect, the memorial transforms into a new life, giving perceptual truth to the old idea that time is a circle not a line.

 

 

 

 

EVENING PRIMROSE CLOCK

The evening primrose (Oenothera) is a clock. This video shows in real time how it blooms at the close of day, like a bell intoning dusk as the Sun slides toward the horizon. If you watch carefully, you’ll see how it beats the time twice with a less expected burst of movement following the flower’s unfurling. 

WATCH HERE (4 mins)

The bloom will only last a night. It’ll give off a delicate scent till the morning. Towards noon this particular variety of evening primrose (Lemon Sunset) is burned by the Sun into a deepening orange-pink. Throughout the day the gradual colour shift of the shrinking bloom displays the time. Then the next new flower will trumpet that definite moment once again: the edge of day tipping into night.

The campaign secretary made this video as part of Stereochron’s field studies into ways to tell the time without a clock. She notes that the primrose flowers on alternate years and blooms on alternate nights. The plant’s stem grows as the Summer lengthens to make room for each new bud. Below that sits the previous bloom’s seedpod. And the one before, beneath that. And so on. The pods can be counted back to the first bloom in early Summer. In effect the plant is a calendar, each seedpod a little memorial to an individual evening. 

As Summer ends, the seedpods begin to burst one by one, starting with the earliest to form. In effect, the memorial transforms into a new life, giving perceptual truth to the old idea that time is a circle not a line.

 

 

 

 

A MIDSUMMER FIELD TRIP 

As every Stereochron citizen knows, our flag design is based on a sundial because of our ambition to live without mechanical clocks. The most important timekeeper to us is the Sun, whose shadows turn every object into a sundial, including ourselves. But how do we learn to read the time from shadows? To help us, Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, led a two-day field study learning how to make solar clocks at Greenwich and Victoria Park. 

The notes below describe the highlights of our Midsummer field studies, pictured above.  

Inspired by the extraordinary wealth of knowledge Marek shared, the campaign secretary afterwards made a map of local time for both parks. 

We’ve also since made a solar clock from a tree on the Island. This will be our official timekeeper from now on.  

PICTURES

1. The strangely serendipitous sky over Stereochron Island on the second morning. 

2. Day one. The Royal Observatory. Marek began by unmasking the temporal mysteries of the cosmos.

3. Next, in the grounds of the Observatory, Marek unravelled misconceptions about the Meridian Line, while behind him tourists posed for their picture over it. 

4. In Greenwich Park, with the ruins of a Roman temple beneath our feet, Marek explained what Summer Solstice is. The word comes from the Latin sol sistere, Sun standing still. It describes the moment the Sun appears to pause in the sky as it reaches its highest point of the year before declining towards Winter, prompting rituals in many cultures to ensure the Summer returns.

Marek warned us never to look directly at the Sun, which can cause irreversible eye damage. So the campaign secretary fashioned a form of pinhole camera like the ones solar eclipse-hunters use. 

The picture shows a Stereochron citizen watching the Sun cast a moving spot of light onto the sheet of white card on the ground.

5. A close-up of the card showing the Sun’s descent at intervals from its apparent highest point at 11.51 BST or 10.49 local time. It won’t rise that high again till Midsummer next year. 

We learnt from Marek that on this particular day civil noon (BST) was a little under an hour and two minutes ahead of local solar noon. At Victoria Park next day, we would discover local time to be different again. 

6. Day Two. Victoria Park. A Stereochron citizen brought along her portable sundial. Here Marek is shown resetting his wristwatch against it to local time.

7. In this picture, Marek is chalking the flagpole’s shadow, turning it into a sundial, to show how local time differs from GMT across the year. On Stereochron that day, civil noon was a little OVER an hour and two minutes ahead of local time. (For more on this, see here.)

8, 9 & 10. Each day concluded with making our own solar clocks. The campaign secretary kept a strict look-out to make sure no one used an artificial gnomon. Instead Stereochronites were instructed to map shadows already in the world around them. First we pegged the shadow on the hour. Thirty minutes later, we added another peg to predict where we thought it would fall at the second hour. Not all of us made totally accurate solar clocks and had to bend our shadows a little.

 

Photos: Manuela Barczewski (2, 7, 8, 10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A DAWN FIELD TRIP

On Saturday 26 April 2014, more than forty of us gathered outside the south-western gates of the Island at 4.30am. We were there to hear the dawn chorus and make a field study of bird-time, one of the rarer kinds protected by Stereochron. This recording captures ecologist Peter Beckenham leading us through it.

LISTEN HERE (24 mins)

Stereochron had commissioned Peter to help us explore how birds tell time and how we can tell time by the birds. What we hadn’t anticipated is the overwhelming intensity of the Spring dawn here. As Peter explained, the bird chorus rises in a layered crescendo, beginning with the solitary pre-dawn song of the blackbird and peaking with the late-rising gull adding to the waking calls of about a dozen other species common to the Island.

It wasn’t easy to tell between the song of the robin, blackcap and goldcrest. Some of us strained to hear the subtle gradations of the bird-clock. Peter passed on advice that had helped him: at first learn to identify five common species, then you can refine your awareness of the differences that distinguish the rest. As a practical aid, he recommended this collection of birdsong

Something else in the Stereochron dawn surprised us: the impact of the changing light. Setting off, we left the sodium-orange murk fringing the Island and plunged into darkness. Dawn came quickly as a swelling pool of grey that yellowed till it threw an amber cast over the treetops. The horse chestnut candelabra seemed to be glowing. Meanwhile the chorus was gaining voice. As the sweet and ugly clamour of robins and crows set the air trembling a little, a pink rainbow appeared above us. We had entered a new Narnia. Large pink birds now began circling. After struggling with this sight for a moment, we recognised them as gulls lit by a red Sun that also caught the head of a cormorant (above).

The Stereochron dawn revealed how shifts in light and hue make up another clock. This is easy to forget in the perpetually lit, artificially coloured Monochronic states, where all hours and days seem equal. You could say that dawn simply reverses the order of light changes that we’re used to at sunset (give or take some differences due to atmospheric conditions). But, in the absence of distraction and familiarity, the dawn-clock seemed more powerful, plunging us more deeply into another sense of time.

When it was over and we headed off the Island in broad daylight at around 6am, the previous day felt a long time ago. So much had happened, so many shifts in light and sound, it was as if we had passed through an accelerated cycle of night and day. Living just briefly like this by bird- and light-clocks had stretched and deepened a standard hour and a half into something much more expansive. For future debate by the committee: Do these kinds of clock give us more time by immersing us in it rather than meting it out tick by tock?

  

 

For Peter Beckenham’s blog, visit here.

Photos: 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th images by Emma Ridgway; all others by Maria Eisl.

Audio editing: Tickertape.

WHAT WORDS SHOULD BE IN THE STEREOCHRON DICTIONARY?
On Stereochron we’re weaning ourselves off mechanical horologes by attuning our faculties to other ways of keeping time. 
A core initiative of our campaign is to expand and refine the Island’s word-stock for time-related topics. This is so we can lay description and detail over the blunt and content-less standard vocabulary of hours, minutes and seconds. 
Our inventory of alternative Time words grows with each new conversation and field study. If you have suggestions to add, please email mail[at]chisenhale.org.uk with the subject header ‘Stereochron vocab’.

ANTHROPOCENE: The current geological epoch, defined by the dominant influence of human activity on the Earth’s environment and climate.
ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. This is the period of first light in the morning and when the sky is almost dark in the evening. See Civil and Nautical Twilight.
BLUE HOUR, THE: The unspecific period of Twilight when natural light appears to have a strong blue hue.
BORROWED LIGHT (archaic): Artificial light. 
CHANGE: The process of transformation, of becoming something other.
CHRONOBIOLOGY: The science of body clocks or biological circadian rhythms.
CHRONOTYPE: A particular individual’s type of body clock or circadian cycle.
CIRCADIAN: Happening in a cycle that follows the time the Earth takes to circle the Sun (i.e. occurring in an approximately 24 standard-hour cycle). 
CIVIL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. Civil Twilight is the lightest portion of Twilight. It precedes Dawn and follows Sunset. See Astronomical and Nautical Twilight.
COCK-CROW (archaic): The period shortly before Dawn. 
COCKNEY (Cockney): Time. Derived from “Time” rhymed with “Cockney Rhyme”. For example, “Have you got the Cockney?”
CONTEXT-SPECIFIC TIME: The term given to time judged by local processes and events, rather than by an external or abstract measure such as the standard clock. 
CREPUSCULAR: Of Twilight; the adjective to describe animals and other entities associated with Twilight.
DARKLING (archaic): Darkening; potentially dangerous.
DAWN: The first light that ushers in Astronomical Twilight. 
DEADLINE: Time limit. Originally the prison camp term for its outer limit. Guards were instructed to shoot any prisoner who crossed the deadline.
DEAD OF NIGHT, THE: Anciently, the period of night after midnight and before first light, considered to be the darkest point in the circadian cycle. See Intempesta.
DIURNAL: Active during the day and sleeping at night. Used to define typical human behaviour. Antonym: nocturnal.
DUSK: The darkest point of Twilight, on the cusp of Night.
ECOZOIC ERA: Thomas Berry's term for a future in which “human conduct will be guided by the ideal of an integral earth community [that includes] all the human and non-human components that constitute the planet Earth”. 
EQUINOX: The twice-yearly date on which day and night are of equal length.
EREMOZOIC ERA: EO Wilson's term for the Age of Loneliness, a future biological epoch where human activity extinguishes nearly all life on Earth (The Creation, 2006).
ENTROPY: Without order, predictability; gradual decay; slow disintegration into disorder.
ESCHATOLOGY (Christian traditions): Belief(s) regarding the events that will end the world or human history.
ETERNAL: Without change; without end.
FIRST SLEEP: According to historian A. Roger Ekirch, the first of two sleeps that pre-industrial people would take each night. His research suggests that the roughly hour-long interval of wakefulness between first sleep and “morning sleep” was a time for watchfulness, prayer, reflection, dream interpretation and sex.
GIBBOUS: The adjective describing a moon that is more than half full.
GLOAMING: Twilight or Dusk.
GÖKOTTA (Swedish, pronounced yo’-kOt-tah): The act of rising early to hear the first birdsong; a dawn picnic.
GOLDEN HOUR, THE: The unspecific period of time following Sunrise or preceding Sunset when light takes on a reddish hue.
GRACE NOTE: An ornamental musical note added without fixed beat or duration to a composition.
GREENWICH MEAN TIME (GMT): The average local solar time at Greenwich in London. GMT gives accurate local solar time for Greenwich on just four days of the year.
HANAMI (Japanese): The ritual of taking time to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of flowers, most often cherry blossom. Hanami may take the form of a pilgrimage following the wave of flowering trees as the Spring thaw travels north.
HARVEST MOON: When the full moon casts light for longer periods around the Autumn Equinox in September.
HEARTBEAT: One pulsation of the heart; perhaps the first and principle measure of time for all animals; a fleeting moment; a unifying or animating force. Statistically speaking, all animals live for roughly a billion heartbeats (SJ Gould). Exceptions include humans who live for approximately three billion.
HISTORY: Time as it is lived.
HOROLOGE: A timepiece, such as a clock.
INTEMPESTA (Latin): The name given by the ancient Romans to the period of the night between midnight and first light. Literally, time without time. See Dead of Night and Witching Hour.
JIFFY: A short while. Possibly from slang for lightening.
KAIROS (Greek): The timely or opportune moment; the right time; the weather.
KODAWARI (Japanese): The mindful and rigorous honing of a craft over time towards perfection.
MIDDAY: The exact moment when the Sun is highest in the sky above a given place. This defines local solar noon. (Greenwich local solar noon matches GMT noon on only four days of the year. Hence the Mean in GMT.)
MIDNIGHT: Exactly half way between Sunrise and Sunset.
MIDSUMMER’s Day: See Summer Solstice.
MONOCHRONIC (Island dialect): An adjective to describe: time reduced to a commodity (as in “Time is Money”); time lived focusing on future outcomes with less value given to the present; the measurements of the mechanical clock, particularly those dissociated from solar, lunar or biological rhythms; regimes of time that enforce any or all of the above. See its antonym Stereochronic.
MURMURATION: The name given to the twilight dance made by thousands of starlings coming together to roost at predictable times of the day. Also known as a starling spectacular.
NAUTICAL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and the rough shape of objects can still be made out. This follows Civil Twilight in the evening, and Astronomical Twilight in the morning. 
NIGHT FOGS (archaic): The miasma that was thought to drop from the sky with nightfall.
NOCTAMBULIST: Sleep walker.
NOON: See Midday.
O——
PEAR DROP: The season when pear trees naturally release their least promising fruit.
PENUMBRA: In partial shadow. During a solar eclipse, a person in penumbra sees a partial eclipse. From the Latin paene (almost) and umbra (shadow).
PIG (archaic): A verb to describe sharing a bed with others who may or may not be members of one’s immediate family, as was common practice. For example, “Five of us pigged in one wide bed”.
PROCRASTINATION: Doing less urgent, easier or more pleasing tasks rather than those which require greater immediacy, effort or difficulty. 
Q——
RETROMANCY: Divination (attempting to read the future from supernatural signs) by looking over your shoulder. Perhaps related to the ancient idea that the future lay behind and the past in front of you. 
RHAPSODY: A free-flowing composition or narrative that combines highly contrasting and unpredictable elements and registers, in contrast to a unified form progressing through predictable stages.
SEASON: A division of time. Today, most commonly used to describe natural climatic periods resulting from the Earth’s changing orbit of the Sun. Formerly used more broadly to refer to a particular time characterised by a distinct set of qualities. For example, night-time was also known as the night-season.
SOLAR TIME: Time measured by when the Sun is highest in the sky above a particular place at noon. As opposed to standard time, which is an ideal measure based on averages. See Greenwich Mean Time.
SUMMER SOLSTICE: One of two days of the year on which the Sun seems to change direction. On this day the Sun appears at its highest point in the sky for the year. After this date the days grow shorter. From the Latin Sol (Sun) and Sistere (to stand still). Also known as Midsummer’s Day. See Winter Solstice.
SPRING TIDE: The time when the ocean tide differs most between its highest and lowest due to the relationship between Earth, Moon and Sun. The term does not refer to the solar season, but to the tide seeming to “spring out”. 
STEREOCHRONIC (Island dialect): An adjective to describe: multiple and varied states of time; time fully lived; time not defined by the mechanical clock but by local events and processes. See its antonym Monochronic.
SUNRISE: When the Sun rises above the horizon, marking the end of Civil Twilight.
TAX YEAR: In the UK, the financial year that starts on 6 April. This apparently arbitrary administrative date derives from the old New Year, which fell on Spring Equinox. It became detached from the true solar date of Spring Equinox in transition to the Gregorian Calendar.
TEMPONAUT: Time traveller.
TEMPS, LE (French): Time; the weather.
TIDE (archaic): A duration; a season; a repeated action or event; a fitting time; a defined period (eg, eventide or Yuletide).
TIDEFUL (archaic): Opportune, convenient, timely.
TIDY (archaic): In tide; in season; in time; timely.
TIMELY: Happening at the proper time.
TWILIGHT: The interval between Sunset and Nightfall, when the Sun sinks below the horizon but still lights the sky.
TWILIGHT REST (archaic): The period of the Scandanavian day when it is too dark to work but considered too early to light a lamp.
U——
V——
WANING: To describe the Moon when it seems to be growing smaller.
WAXING: To describe the Moon when it seems to be growing bigger.
WIDDERSHINS (Early Modern English): The act of moving anti-clockwise against the apparent course of the Sun; running counter to good sense. (It was once considered bad luck to move widdershins round a church.)
WINTER SOLSTICE: The day of the year when, in Britain and other latitudes, the Sun appears to change direction in the sky and the days start to become longer. See Summer Solstice.
WITCHING HOUR, THE: Midnight, when anciently witches and spirits were thought most likely to appear.
X——
Y——
ZEMAN (Hebrew): Time, as in the abstract standard entity against which we measure events; formerly, appointment, as in time defined by lived events. See Context-Specific Time.
ZEITGEBER (German): An environmental time trigger. For example, the dipping of the Sun below the horizon, which signals time to sleep for the body clock of a diurnal animal. Literally, time-giver. 
ZEITGEIST (German): The spirit of the times.
ZUGENRUHE (German): The restlessness that tugs at birds to migrate back to their nesting grounds for Spring.



 
 
 

WHAT WORDS SHOULD BE IN THE STEREOCHRON DICTIONARY?

On Stereochron we’re weaning ourselves off mechanical horologes by attuning our faculties to other ways of keeping time.

A core initiative of our campaign is to expand and refine the Island’s word-stock for time-related topics. This is so we can lay description and detail over the blunt and content-less standard vocabulary of hours, minutes and seconds.

Our inventory of alternative Time words grows with each new conversation and field studyIf you have suggestions to add, please email mail[at]chisenhale.org.uk with the subject header ‘Stereochron vocab’.

ANTHROPOCENE: The current geological epoch, defined by the dominant influence of human activity on the Earth’s environment and climate.

ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. This is the period of first light in the morning and when the sky is almost dark in the evening. See Civil and Nautical Twilight.

BLUE HOUR, THE: The unspecific period of Twilight when natural light appears to have a strong blue hue.

BORROWED LIGHT (archaic): Artificial light. 

CHANGE: The process of transformation, of becoming something other.

CHRONOBIOLOGY: The science of body clocks or biological circadian rhythms.

CHRONOTYPE: A particular individual’s type of body clock or circadian cycle.

CIRCADIAN: Happening in a cycle that follows the time the Earth takes to circle the Sun (i.e. occurring in an approximately 24 standard-hour cycle). 

CIVIL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. Civil Twilight is the lightest portion of Twilight. It precedes Dawn and follows Sunset. See Astronomical and Nautical Twilight.

COCK-CROW (archaic): The period shortly before Dawn. 

COCKNEY (Cockney): Time. Derived from “Time” rhymed with “Cockney Rhyme”. For example, “Have you got the Cockney?”

CONTEXT-SPECIFIC TIME: The term given to time judged by local processes and events, rather than by an external or abstract measure such as the standard clock. 

CREPUSCULAR: Of Twilight; the adjective to describe animals and other entities associated with Twilight.

DARKLING (archaic): Darkening; potentially dangerous.

DAWN: The first light that ushers in Astronomical Twilight. 

DEADLINE: Time limit. Originally the prison camp term for its outer limit. Guards were instructed to shoot any prisoner who crossed the deadline.

DEAD OF NIGHT, THE: Anciently, the period of night after midnight and before first light, considered to be the darkest point in the circadian cycle. See Intempesta.

DIURNAL: Active during the day and sleeping at night. Used to define typical human behaviour. Antonym: nocturnal.

DUSK: The darkest point of Twilight, on the cusp of Night.

ECOZOIC ERA: Thomas Berry's term for a future in which “human conduct will be guided by the ideal of an integral earth community [that includes] all the human and non-human components that constitute the planet Earth”. 

EQUINOX: The twice-yearly date on which day and night are of equal length.

EREMOZOIC ERA: EO Wilson's term for the Age of Loneliness, a future biological epoch where human activity extinguishes nearly all life on Earth (The Creation, 2006).

ENTROPY: Without order, predictability; gradual decay; slow disintegration into disorder.

ESCHATOLOGY (Christian traditions): Belief(s) regarding the events that will end the world or human history.

ETERNAL: Without change; without end.

FIRST SLEEP: According to historian A. Roger Ekirch, the first of two sleeps that pre-industrial people would take each night. His research suggests that the roughly hour-long interval of wakefulness between first sleep and “morning sleep” was a time for watchfulness, prayer, reflection, dream interpretation and sex.

GIBBOUS: The adjective describing a moon that is more than half full.

GLOAMING: Twilight or Dusk.

GÖKOTTA (Swedish, pronounced yo’-kOt-tah): The act of rising early to hear the first birdsong; a dawn picnic.

GOLDEN HOUR, THE: The unspecific period of time following Sunrise or preceding Sunset when light takes on a reddish hue.

GRACE NOTE: An ornamental musical note added without fixed beat or duration to a composition.

GREENWICH MEAN TIME (GMT): The average local solar time at Greenwich in London. GMT gives accurate local solar time for Greenwich on just four days of the year.

HANAMI (Japanese): The ritual of taking time to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of flowers, most often cherry blossom. Hanami may take the form of a pilgrimage following the wave of flowering trees as the Spring thaw travels north.

HARVEST MOON: When the full moon casts light for longer periods around the Autumn Equinox in September.

HEARTBEAT: One pulsation of the heart; perhaps the first and principle measure of time for all animals; a fleeting moment; a unifying or animating force. Statistically speaking, all animals live for roughly a billion heartbeats (SJ Gould). Exceptions include humans who live for approximately three billion.

HISTORY: Time as it is lived.

HOROLOGE: A timepiece, such as a clock.

INTEMPESTA (Latin): The name given by the ancient Romans to the period of the night between midnight and first light. Literally, time without time. See Dead of Night and Witching Hour.

JIFFY: A short while. Possibly from slang for lightening.

KAIROS (Greek): The timely or opportune moment; the right time; the weather.

KODAWARI (Japanese): The mindful and rigorous honing of a craft over time towards perfection.

MIDDAY: The exact moment when the Sun is highest in the sky above a given place. This defines local solar noon. (Greenwich local solar noon matches GMT noon on only four days of the year. Hence the Mean in GMT.)

MIDNIGHT: Exactly half way between Sunrise and Sunset.

MIDSUMMER’s Day: See Summer Solstice.

MONOCHRONIC (Island dialect): An adjective to describe: time reduced to a commodity (as in “Time is Money”); time lived focusing on future outcomes with less value given to the present; the measurements of the mechanical clock, particularly those dissociated from solar, lunar or biological rhythms; regimes of time that enforce any or all of the above. See its antonym Stereochronic.

MURMURATION: The name given to the twilight dance made by thousands of starlings coming together to roost at predictable times of the day. Also known as a starling spectacular.

NAUTICAL TWILIGHT: When the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and the rough shape of objects can still be made out. This follows Civil Twilight in the evening, and Astronomical Twilight in the morning. 

NIGHT FOGS (archaic): The miasma that was thought to drop from the sky with nightfall.

NOCTAMBULIST: Sleep walker.

NOON: See Midday.

O——

PEAR DROP: The season when pear trees naturally release their least promising fruit.

PENUMBRA: In partial shadow. During a solar eclipse, a person in penumbra sees a partial eclipse. From the Latin paene (almost) and umbra (shadow).

PIG (archaic): A verb to describe sharing a bed with others who may or may not be members of one’s immediate family, as was common practice. For example, “Five of us pigged in one wide bed”.

PROCRASTINATION: Doing less urgent, easier or more pleasing tasks rather than those which require greater immediacy, effort or difficulty. 

Q——

RETROMANCY: Divination (attempting to read the future from supernatural signs) by looking over your shoulder. Perhaps related to the ancient idea that the future lay behind and the past in front of you. 

RHAPSODY: A free-flowing composition or narrative that combines highly contrasting and unpredictable elements and registers, in contrast to a unified form progressing through predictable stages.

SEASON: A division of time. Today, most commonly used to describe natural climatic periods resulting from the Earth’s changing orbit of the Sun. Formerly used more broadly to refer to a particular time characterised by a distinct set of qualities. For example, night-time was also known as the night-season.

SOLAR TIME: Time measured by when the Sun is highest in the sky above a particular place at noon. As opposed to standard time, which is an ideal measure based on averages. See Greenwich Mean Time.

SUMMER SOLSTICE: One of two days of the year on which the Sun seems to change direction. On this day the Sun appears at its highest point in the sky for the year. After this date the days grow shorter. From the Latin Sol (Sun) and Sistere (to stand still). Also known as Midsummer’s Day. See Winter Solstice.

SPRING TIDE: The time when the ocean tide differs most between its highest and lowest due to the relationship between Earth, Moon and Sun. The term does not refer to the solar season, but to the tide seeming to “spring out”. 

STEREOCHRONIC (Island dialect): An adjective to describe: multiple and varied states of time; time fully lived; time not defined by the mechanical clock but by local events and processes. See its antonym Monochronic.

SUNRISE: When the Sun rises above the horizon, marking the end of Civil Twilight.

TAX YEAR: In the UK, the financial year that starts on 6 April. This apparently arbitrary administrative date derives from the old New Year, which fell on Spring Equinox. It became detached from the true solar date of Spring Equinox in transition to the Gregorian Calendar.

TEMPONAUT: Time traveller.

TEMPS, LE (French): Time; the weather.

TIDE (archaic): A duration; a season; a repeated action or event; a fitting time; a defined period (eg, eventide or Yuletide).

TIDEFUL (archaic): Opportune, convenient, timely.

TIDY (archaic): In tide; in season; in time; timely.

TIMELY: Happening at the proper time.

TWILIGHT: The interval between Sunset and Nightfall, when the Sun sinks below the horizon but still lights the sky.

TWILIGHT REST (archaic): The period of the Scandanavian day when it is too dark to work but considered too early to light a lamp.

U——

V——

WANING: To describe the Moon when it seems to be growing smaller.

WAXING: To describe the Moon when it seems to be growing bigger.

WIDDERSHINS (Early Modern English): The act of moving anti-clockwise against the apparent course of the Sun; running counter to good sense. (It was once considered bad luck to move widdershins round a church.)

WINTER SOLSTICE: The day of the year when, in Britain and other latitudes, the Sun appears to change direction in the sky and the days start to become longer. See Summer Solstice.

WITCHING HOUR, THE: Midnight, when anciently witches and spirits were thought most likely to appear.

X——

Y——

ZEMAN (Hebrew): Time, as in the abstract standard entity against which we measure events; formerly, appointment, as in time defined by lived events. See Context-Specific Time.

ZEITGEBER (German): An environmental time trigger. For example, the dipping of the Sun below the horizon, which signals time to sleep for the body clock of a diurnal animal. Literally, time-giver. 

ZEITGEIST (German): The spirit of the times.

ZUGENRUHE (German): The restlessness that tugs at birds to migrate back to their nesting grounds for Spring.

 

 

 

WHAT WOULD LIFE BE LIKE WITHOUT THE WORD TIME?
Citizens, we have come far. Through our field studies we have gathered an arsenal of tools to tell time without machines. We have explored our inner landscape of time. We have begun our outreach programme to the Monochronic states. Among our most important achievements has been the creation of the Stereochron Dictionary. With all these gains in hand, we have reached the moment to embark on the next stage: a collective experiment to see if we can live without the word Time.
Why? Let us consider what Time means. We think of it as a neutral entity without a history of its own, a pristine backdrop against which the messy action of life takes place. But this idea is human-made and historically specific, rather than a natural and universal fact. It is most likely isolated to Indo-European cultures, amplified by the ancient Greeks and given its modern thrust by Newtonians. In short, to paraphrase Sacha Stern, the majority of cultures over history have not had a word for Time as a thing in itself.*
What’s more, as Stern reminds us, we might live more comfortably without it. Consider the anthropologist E Evans-Pritchard’s comparison of his own sense of Time with that of the Nuer herders he lived with in the 1930s in what is now South Sudan:

"I do not think that [the Nuer] ever experience the same feeling of fighting against time or having to coordinate activities with an abstract passage of time, because their points of reference are mainly the activities themselves."

The Nuer herders lived by the cattle clock, he said, translating it into an abstract metaphor to aid his Western readers’ understanding. On Stereochron we have encountered something close to this in the ways the campaign secretary’s family judge when to harvest crops or take cattle to market.
The cattle clock does not display Time as a succession of identical units. Rather its irregular, multiple, parallel phases are defined by the events they describe. Vestiges of this are left in our language: the blink of an eye, the shake of a lamb’s tale, moons ago, the crack of dawn. On Stereochron we have expanded those measures to changes in the sheep’s eye, the blooming of the evening primrose, the colour-shift of the sky, the crescendo of the dawn chorus, and the length and orientation of shadows.
As we learnt on our Midsummer field trip, standard clock-time is not an objective model for physics any more than it is for anthropology. In as far as we must use it for certain essential tasks on Stereochron that require accurate synchrony, let’s remember that the standard clock’s tick-tock is just another form of event against which to measure other events, as Stern points out. And if we must use the word Time, let’s enlarge our vocabulary by anchoring it in the matter of life.
Can we live without Time? Let the experiment begin. 

  



 

 



* Sacha Stern, Time and Process in Ancient Judaism, 2003. 





 

 





 

 





 

 







 

 

WHAT WOULD LIFE BE LIKE WITHOUT THE WORD TIME?

Citizens, we have come far. Through our field studies we have gathered an arsenal of tools to tell time without machines. We have explored our inner landscape of time. We have begun our outreach programme to the Monochronic states. Among our most important achievements has been the creation of the Stereochron Dictionary. With all these gains in hand, we have reached the moment to embark on the next stage: a collective experiment to see if we can live without the word Time.

Why? Let us consider what Time means. We think of it as a neutral entity without a history of its own, a pristine backdrop against which the messy action of life takes place. But this idea is human-made and historically specific, rather than a natural and universal fact. It is most likely isolated to Indo-European cultures, amplified by the ancient Greeks and given its modern thrust by Newtonians. In short, to paraphrase Sacha Stern, the majority of cultures over history have not had a word for Time as a thing in itself.*

What’s more, as Stern reminds us, we might live more comfortably without it. Consider the anthropologist E Evans-Pritchard’s comparison of his own sense of Time with that of the Nuer herders he lived with in the 1930s in what is now South Sudan:

"I do not think that [the Nuer] ever experience the same feeling of fighting against time or having to coordinate activities with an abstract passage of time, because their points of reference are mainly the activities themselves."

The Nuer herders lived by the cattle clock, he said, translating it into an abstract metaphor to aid his Western readers’ understanding. On Stereochron we have encountered something close to this in the ways the campaign secretary’s family judge when to harvest crops or take cattle to market.

The cattle clock does not display Time as a succession of identical units. Rather its irregular, multiple, parallel phases are defined by the events they describe. Vestiges of this are left in our language: the blink of an eye, the shake of a lamb’s tale, moons ago, the crack of dawn. On Stereochron we have expanded those measures to changes in the sheep’s eye, the blooming of the evening primrose, the colour-shift of the sky, the crescendo of the dawn chorus, and the length and orientation of shadows.

As we learnt on our Midsummer field trip, standard clock-time is not an objective model for physics any more than it is for anthropology. In as far as we must use it for certain essential tasks on Stereochron that require accurate synchrony, let’s remember that the standard clock’s tick-tock is just another form of event against which to measure other events, as Stern points out. And if we must use the word Time, let’s enlarge our vocabulary by anchoring it in the matter of life.

Can we live without Time? Let the experiment begin. 

  

 

 

* Sacha Stern, Time and Process in Ancient Judaism, 2003. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 SIGNS TO TELL TIME OVER 24 HOURS WITHOUT A CLOCK

IMAGE: after a detail from a mediaeval calendar showing the hours of daylight (red) and night (black) in April. 

 

OUR TIME IS NOT CLOCK TIME
During our Midsummer field trip the Public Astronomer casually remarked that local time is seconds’ different from one side of Greenwich Park to the other. To work out what that means for Stereochron, the campaign secretary made this map.
It shows the difference in local solar time at various points in Greenwich and Victoria Parks. Solar time is determined by when the Sun is highest overhead at noon. Intriguingly, when time is measured this way, there is a difference of approximately six seconds between the eastern and western ends of Victoria Park. The Victoria Park fountain monument is nine seconds behind the Royal Observatory, which itself is two seconds behind the deer enclosure in the south-eastern corner of Greenwich Park.
The Observatory in Greenwich Park sits on zero degrees longitude, to which standard time is tagged of course. But standard time is in fact accurate at only four instants during the year — hence the Mean in GMT. Solar time differs by as much as 16mins depending on the date. To illustrate this, the bottom of the map gives the UK civil time for when it’s solar noon at zero degrees longitude on approximate dates of the equinoxes and solstices.
The times given on the map can only ever be rough figures. As Peter Ransom of the British Sundial Society told us, they "depend on many things that cannot be analysed exactly, but are approximations to such [phenomena] as the Earth’s motion, the precession of axis of the Earth, the refraction due to the light from the Sun in passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, the fact that the solar year is not an exact number of days and so on.” It seems that the time we think of as natural, universal, precise and fixed is not. The Universe keeps its own irregular rhythms. 
This map is a contribution to our efforts on Stereochron to take back our own time, literally and symbolically to loosen our attachment to the hypersynchrony of standard time. Our first step is to restore local time on the Island and synch up again to the rhythms of the Solar System. We’ve begun by making our first alternative timekeeper beside the monument to the old time regime.
The print was made by exposing light-reactive paper to daylight (with notes in red ink added by hand). When the blue lines fade, they can be strengthened again by resting the print in a dark place, echoing the rhythm of darkness and light needed by the diurnal human body.
To find out how your location on the globe differs from standard time, we recommend the web calculator Solar-Noon.com



 





 

 

 

OUR TIME IS NOT CLOCK TIME

During our Midsummer field trip the Public Astronomer casually remarked that local time is seconds’ different from one side of Greenwich Park to the other. To work out what that means for Stereochron, the campaign secretary made this map.

It shows the difference in local solar time at various points in Greenwich and Victoria Parks. Solar time is determined by when the Sun is highest overhead at noon. Intriguingly, when time is measured this way, there is a difference of approximately six seconds between the eastern and western ends of Victoria Park. The Victoria Park fountain monument is nine seconds behind the Royal Observatory, which itself is two seconds behind the deer enclosure in the south-eastern corner of Greenwich Park.

The Observatory in Greenwich Park sits on zero degrees longitude, to which standard time is tagged of course. But standard time is in fact accurate at only four instants during the year — hence the Mean in GMT. Solar time differs by as much as 16mins depending on the date. To illustrate this, the bottom of the map gives the UK civil time for when it’s solar noon at zero degrees longitude on approximate dates of the equinoxes and solstices.

The times given on the map can only ever be rough figures. As Peter Ransom of the British Sundial Society told us, they "depend on many things that cannot be analysed exactly, but are approximations to such [phenomena] as the Earth’s motion, the precession of axis of the Earth, the refraction due to the light from the Sun in passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, the fact that the solar year is not an exact number of days and so on.” It seems that the time we think of as natural, universal, precise and fixed is not. The Universe keeps its own irregular rhythms. 

This map is a contribution to our efforts on Stereochron to take back our own time, literally and symbolically to loosen our attachment to the hypersynchrony of standard time. Our first step is to restore local time on the Island and synch up again to the rhythms of the Solar System. We’ve begun by making our first alternative timekeeper beside the monument to the old time regime.

The print was made by exposing light-reactive paper to daylight (with notes in red ink added by hand). When the blue lines fade, they can be strengthened again by resting the print in a dark place, echoing the rhythm of darkness and light needed by the diurnal human body.

To find out how your location on the globe differs from standard time, we recommend the web calculator Solar-Noon.com

 

 

 

 

A MONUMENT TO THE OLD REGIME

Good news. We have successfully stopped the last remaining mechanical clock on the Island: the multi-faceted timepiece on the roof of the fountain. It will now be preserved as a memorial to the old regime, forfend we forget.

However, before we rail too hard against it, Stereochron’s archivist has brought some intriguing information to light which adds complexity to the memorial’s meaning. When the clocks were first installed they may not have been the tools of oppression they came to be for us.

The fountain was the gift of the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts in 1862. At that point, the UK’s standard time zone had not yet been established. It is quite possible that the clocks displayed the local solar time for the Island that we have only recently reclaimed.

Importantly, there is a more urgent way in which the Burdett-Coutts fountain would have given local people back their own time. Victorian factory bosses were notorious for fiddling their clocks to squeeze extra hours from their already overburdened workers. Providing public access to accurate time would have helped resist this practice. When first introduced, the fountain clocks would have democratised time measurement. This would have added another layer to the Island’s Time Commons, even if over the years the fountain’s timepieces simply became a reminder of our battle with the ubiquitous clocks off the Island. 

We admit that we have become a little polarised in our views by favouring Stereochron’s new shadow clock and dismantling the old mechanical clock. We built our new sundial as a means to reconnect with the cycles of the solar system. For us today it is a vitally important symbol of our separatist movement to protect the Island from the monotony of machine time. But we must not forget the history of the shadow clock. The ancient Romans complained of the tyranny of sundials. And up till the 1930s they were sold as correctors to mechanical clocks. 

This realisation led the campaign secretary to make a salutary visit on her Summer holidays to a house that preserves a sundial on its face. It is said that it was occupied by a farm labourer who was always late for work. When reprimanded, he complained that he had no clock. The farmer responded by painting a giant timepiece over his cottage. Touché.

We note from the CS’s holiday snap that the neighbouring cottage garden is bursting with another of Stereochron’s favourite forms of solar timekeeper, the evening primrose clock. We find it hard to imagine using the primrose as a force for control. But nor could it be used to argue with the authority of an accurate timekeeper, whether sundial or machine, in a place of work. Instead the primrose clock stands for the right to periods of time lived in contemplation and wonder without utility or measurement — perhaps an increasingly important counter to the way we live now.


A MAP OF SHADOWS
Our principle campaign officer has just devised this short play about the importance of shadows. It is a form of educational outreach offered to potential hosts in the over-lit yet daylight-starved workplaces of the Monochronic states.*
***
The play is approximately ten minutes long. It is for one performer. They stand behind a table set close to the wall. On the table are five desklamps focused on the performer. The lamp armatures are collectively angled to make a rough arc, with the middle lamp highest. 
No lights are on. The performer faces the audience and begins.
> It is some hours after midnight. The deepest night is over. In its blackness our sundials were useless. We have a word for that part of the night: intempesta. Time without time. Timeless time. A disordered, chaotic gap in the hours. We waited. We made offerings. We poured black ink into the river, pretending to liquefy and banish the dark. Our only light was the Moon’s smooth mirror reflecting the botched Earth back at us.
> Far beneath us just now the Sun god Ra is steering his small boat through the last of the twelve chambers of the Underworld. Every night he makes this journey while demons taunt him from the riverbank. He never sees them, only their shadows, long and menacing against the cave walls, thrown by his own light. Over and over the demons hiss their threats as he passes. They want to take him hostage. But out ahead of Ra, leading the way, is his lion-headed daughter, Sekhmet. Her roar shrinks the shadows of monsters into whimpering, whelp-sized flickers. Mehen, the snake god with the tail in his mouth, helps too. He is coiled around Ra in protection. It is his and Sekhmet’s job to return Ra to the sky and keep the circle of time revolving. What if they slip up? What if Ra does not come back? 
> Let your fears go. Venus, the Morning Star, has already risen. Daylight will bring back time. But light itself experiences no time. Forget that. Fear is fading. The first bird is singing. 
Switches on lamp 1 (furthest to audience’s right). Turns to face it.
> A cold light breaks the sky-rim in the East. Everything starts there. Ancient maps are oriented to the East. Temples face the orient. 
> First light throws first shadows in a world where everything and everyone is a sundial. 
Switches off lamp 1. Switches on lamp 2. Continues to face ‘east’ (lamp 1).
> As the day goes on my shadow moves around my left as the Sun passes my right. Ahead: East. Right: South. Left: Shadow.
> Right is right: the truth, the light. Left is sinistra. Sinister. 
> To turn left, against the direction of the Sun, is out of order, abnormal, sinister. The English had a word for this: widdershins. Walk widdershins round a church and be damned. 
> Truth, form, chaos, doubt, direction and time. 

> The future casts a shadow over the past. To find out the future, I look over my shoulder and read my shadow. This is one definition of retromancy. 

Switches off lamp 2. Switches on lamp 3 and faces it.

> What time is it? High Noon now. The Sun is highest above us. This is our time, not clock time.

> In the tropics, on certain days for a few moments, the midday Sun throws no shadow at all. Timeless noon. The briefest intempesta. 

Switches off lamp 3. Switches on lamp 4 and faces it.

> Everything is movement. Everything is change. Nothing is fixed. 

Switches off lamp 4. Switches on lamp 5 and faces it.

> The crepuscular creep begins again. 

> The body’s chemistry alters. The eye’s pupil dilates. Its retina switches from cone cells to rods. The world goes grey. Things flitting in peripheral vision seem more vivid than objects in plain view. 

> On bright days, shadows give form. As dusk falls, shadows distort, hollowing out rococo cavities that disguise doubt, deceit, desire. Secrets grow. Fear returns. Shadows layer on shadows.

Switches off all lamps. Faces audience.

> Years ago these city streets were lit only on nights without a moon. Oil lamps made little holes that barely punctured the dark. For Londoners then night was a black blanket, a ghost cloak. A miasma thickening the air with shadow matter. Heavy, engulfing. Weightless, ungraspable. 

> In the darkness cats’ eyes flash yellow. Rabbits’ eyes flash red. Unnatural lights. Lights that haunt the retina after the creatures have gone. 

> We’re on a ghost train. Falling for the false lights of superstition. Blink them away. 

> To shadow used to mean to protect, as if under the cover of wings. Those trapped by day are freed by the invisibility cloak of night. 

> But light is right. And right is light. What if we made artificial moons to erase the night, said a father of the enlightenment. Now every street is lined with little suns. 

Switches on all lamps one by one in reverse order. Faces middle lamp.

> Night is over. What time is it now?

> We have entered the permanent high noon of artificial light. Intempesta. Time without time. 

> The Sun has lost its umbilical tug on us. The divine light has come to Earth. 

> True darkness is erased. Every hollow is lit. Every secret is out. Night is over.

> The cycle of time has been cut into a marching line of stiff little units. The clock is a map of shadows detached from their source. 

> Remember how it feels to walk from the park at dusk into the fixed shadows of electric streetlamps. To move from the infinite sky-clock and disappear inside the mechanical clock. 

> But it’s not yet night. The streetlights are off. We still have time to find our shadows. 

Switches off all lamps one by one starting with lamp 1.

— ENDS —

 

* This is the script of a performance by Cathy Haynes commissioned by Tenderpixel and presented in the basement reading room of Tenderbooks, Cecil Court, London, on 26 July 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

A MAP OF SHADOWS

Our principle campaign officer has just devised this short play about the importance of shadows. It is a form of educational outreach offered to potential hosts in the over-lit yet daylight-starved workplaces of the Monochronic states.*

***

The play is approximately ten minutes long. It is for one performer. They stand behind a table set close to the wall. On the table are five desklamps focused on the performer. The lamp armatures are collectively angled to make a rough arc, with the middle lamp highest.

No lights are on. The performer faces the audience and begins.

> It is some hours after midnight. The deepest night is over. In its blackness our sundials were useless. We have a word for that part of the night: intempesta. Time without time. Timeless time. A disordered, chaotic gap in the hours. We waited. We made offerings. We poured black ink into the river, pretending to liquefy and banish the dark. Our only light was the Moon’s smooth mirror reflecting the botched Earth back at us.

> Far beneath us just now the Sun god Ra is steering his small boat through the last of the twelve chambers of the Underworld. Every night he makes this journey while demons taunt him from the riverbank. He never sees them, only their shadows, long and menacing against the cave walls, thrown by his own light. Over and over the demons hiss their threats as he passes. They want to take him hostage. But out ahead of Ra, leading the way, is his lion-headed daughter, Sekhmet. Her roar shrinks the shadows of monsters into whimpering, whelp-sized flickers. Mehen, the snake god with the tail in his mouth, helps too. He is coiled around Ra in protection. It is his and Sekhmet’s job to return Ra to the sky and keep the circle of time revolving. What if they slip up? What if Ra does not come back? 

> Let your fears go. Venus, the Morning Star, has already risen. Daylight will bring back time. But light itself experiences no time. Forget that. Fear is fading. The first bird is singing. 

Switches on lamp 1 (furthest to audience’s right). Turns to face it.

> A cold light breaks the sky-rim in the East. Everything starts there. Ancient maps are oriented to the East. Temples face the orient. 

> First light throws first shadows in a world where everything and everyone is a sundial. 

Switches off lamp 1. Switches on lamp 2. Continues to face ‘east’ (lamp 1).

> As the day goes on my shadow moves around my left as the Sun passes my right. Ahead: East. Right: South. Left: Shadow.

> Right is right: the truth, the light. Left is sinistra. Sinister. 

> To turn left, against the direction of the Sun, is out of order, abnormal, sinister. The English had a word for this: widdershins. Walk widdershins round a church and be damned. 

> Truth, form, chaos, doubt, direction and time. 

> The future casts a shadow over the past. To find out the future, I look over my shoulder and read my shadow. This is one definition of retromancy. 

Switches off lamp 2. Switches on lamp 3 and faces it.

> What time is it? High Noon now. The Sun is highest above us. This is our time, not clock time.

> In the tropics, on certain days for a few moments, the midday Sun throws no shadow at all. Timeless noon. The briefest intempesta

Switches off lamp 3. Switches on lamp 4 and faces it.

> Everything is movement. Everything is change. Nothing is fixed. 

Switches off lamp 4. Switches on lamp 5 and faces it.

> The crepuscular creep begins again. 

> The body’s chemistry alters. The eye’s pupil dilates. Its retina switches from cone cells to rods. The world goes grey. Things flitting in peripheral vision seem more vivid than objects in plain view. 

> On bright days, shadows give form. As dusk falls, shadows distort, hollowing out rococo cavities that disguise doubt, deceit, desire. Secrets grow. Fear returns. Shadows layer on shadows.

Switches off all lamps. Faces audience.

> Years ago these city streets were lit only on nights without a moon. Oil lamps made little holes that barely punctured the dark. For Londoners then night was a black blanket, a ghost cloak. A miasma thickening the air with shadow matter. Heavy, engulfing. Weightless, ungraspable. 

> In the darkness cats’ eyes flash yellow. Rabbits’ eyes flash red. Unnatural lights. Lights that haunt the retina after the creatures have gone. 

> We’re on a ghost train. Falling for the false lights of superstition. Blink them away. 

> To shadow used to mean to protect, as if under the cover of wings. Those trapped by day are freed by the invisibility cloak of night. 

> But light is right. And right is light. What if we made artificial moons to erase the night, said a father of the enlightenment. Now every street is lined with little suns. 

Switches on all lamps one by one in reverse order. Faces middle lamp.

> Night is over. What time is it now?

> We have entered the permanent high noon of artificial light. Intempesta. Time without time. 

> The Sun has lost its umbilical tug on us. The divine light has come to Earth. 

> True darkness is erased. Every hollow is lit. Every secret is out. Night is over.

> The cycle of time has been cut into a marching line of stiff little units. The clock is a map of shadows detached from their source. 

> Remember how it feels to walk from the park at dusk into the fixed shadows of electric streetlamps. To move from the infinite sky-clock and disappear inside the mechanical clock. 

> But it’s not yet night. The streetlights are off. We still have time to find our shadows. 

Switches off all lamps one by one starting with lamp 1.

— ENDS —

 

* This is the script of a performance by Cathy Haynes commissioned by Tenderpixel and presented in the basement reading room of Tenderbooks, Cecil Court, London, on 26 July 2014.