“Cameras are clocks for seeing.”

 

I think it is this simple, but beautiful phrase of French philosopher Roland Barthes that made me start collecting cuckoo clocks, burning them and taking their picture.

 

To me, cuckoo clocks are full of meaning and paradoxes. Though it’s made out of wood - an ultimate natural material - and full of decorative elements (tree leaves, animals) that refer to the forest - nature’s ultimate home - it is designed to serve an utterly unnatural, cultural purpose: measuring time. 

There’s the cuckoo itself, renowned for being a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds. Cuckoos use a technique called egg mimicry: they lay eggs that resemble the host’s. By doing so they escape the task of building a nest and raising their offspring: a truly time-saving lifestyle. Although free and homeless in their natural environment, they are locked by humans into house-shaped clocks. Every hour they are mechanically forced to come out and cry their onomatopoeic name, not as a demarcation of space (territory) but of time. 

The same old song, every hour, everyday - an evergreen. 

But every song must come to an end, so I decided to burn the clocks. Apart from the symbolic character, my main interest was a formal one: creating uniformity through the process of carbonisation. Most colours disappear and the object becomes fragile, almost defenceless. It may fall apart by merely looking at it, so to speak. But before it does so, we can take a picture of it.

Evergreen (2018) is a refection of modern man’s alienation from nature and his obsession with mechanical progress and time management.

All images (594mm x 841 mm) are printed on Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl, 285gsm. 

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