Liberating clocks: Developing a critical horology to rethink the potential of clock time

New Formations 1 (92):41-55 (2017)
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Across a wide range of cultural forms, including philosophy, cultural theory, literature and art, the figure of the clock has drawn suspicion, censure and outright hostility. In contrast, even while maps have been shown to be complicit with forms of domination, they are also widely recognised as tools that can be critically reworked in the service of more liberatory ends. This paper seeks to counteract the tendency to see clocks in this way, arguing that they have many more interesting possibilities than they are usually given credit for. An analysis of approaches to clocks in continental philosophy critiques the way they have too often been dismissed as unworthy of further analysis, and argues that this dismissal is based upon an inadequate understanding of how clocks operate. Seeking to move towards more critical and curious approaches, the paper draws inspiration from critical cartography in order to call for the development of a ‘critical horology’ which would emphasise both the fundamentally political nature of clocks, and the potential for designing them otherwise. A discussion of temporal design provides a range of examples of how clocks might open up new horizons within the politics of time.
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