Relative Clocks

Chomko & Rosier and UK Space Agency reveals the scientific & poetic nature of relativity

London based design studio Chomko & Rosier, whose work blends technology, architecture and art, reveal their latest installation, Relative Clocks commissioned by the UK Space Agency. Charting both visually and aurally the extraordinary effects of time dilation, a series of four specially created clocks will be connected in real time to spacecraft currently orbiting the earth, including the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station. The clocks will be on display from 11 – 13 November 2016 at Decima X, a new gallery in the heart of Bermondsey, London and it will tour across 2017.

Relative_Clocks_Large_01_Copyright-Richard-John-

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Designers Matthew Rosier and Jonathan Chomko say,

“We’re very happy to have had the UK Space Agency’s support in this exploration. Our first prototype in this project visualised the time on the International Space Station in relation to Earth. There was something remarkable about seeing the effect of time dilation, this small offset, translated into the ticking of a clock for the first time. It’s our hope that this piece provides the same sense of wonder to its viewers as it did for us”.

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

The phenomena of time dilation occurs because time in space is experienced at a different rate due to the effects of gravity and velocity, as explained by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Each clock will consist of two hands – one displaying time on a spacecraft, whilst the other keeps time on Earth. The delay between the ticking of the two hands indicates the actual time difference which is constantly expanding, as each second in space is slightly longer or shorter than a second on earth.  The clocks will update every day to reflect the constant effects of relativity on the spacecraft.

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Relative Clocks ©Richard John

Sue Horne, Head of Exploration, UK Space Agency, says,

“Space exploration, despite its huge returns on innovative technology and unique science, can sometimes seem remote to us here on Earth. This installation gives people the chance to connect to objects deep in space through something as personal and subjective as our own experience of time.”

The satellite hand will be set behind a clear pane of glass, with the earth hand behind frosted glass; the aesthetic a direct reference to the photographs produced by Arthur Eddington in 1919 that showed a shift in the position of stars during the 1919 solar eclipse, providing the first experimental proof of the theory of General Relativity.

Relative Clocks was commissioned by the UK Space Agency to engage the public in their research. The installation will be available for public view from 11 – 13 October at Decima X, 65 Decima Street, London SE1 4QR, and touring from 2017. 


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