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E n   u n   c l i n   d ‘ œ i l   (  0 1 h   5 9 m   6 0 s  )

Bad Ems, Germany  |  1 July 2012, 01h 59m 60s 

Duration: 1 second

July 1, 2012  was the longest day of the year. At 01h 59m 60s precisely, an extra second was added to our time. The very last minute of this hour amounted to a total 61 seconds. The Observatoire de Paris and IERS (International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service) explain this in terms of a positive “leap second”.

To mark this very rare, intermittent occasion, fine artist Elisabeth S. Clark presented a specially choreographed “light intervention”. At once a simultaneous announcement, question, signal and celebration, En un clin d’œil proposed a concurrent appearance and negation of time.

Over the last four years, and since the last leap second in 2008, the artist has worked closely with the Observatoire de Paris researching and further understanding this infinitesimal but special “moment”. Due to growing concerns regarding its future, coupled with the fact that this could be one of the world’s last ever leap seconds, her project wished to celebrate the 2012 leap second, poignantly also the 25th additional second added to our time since 1972.

The twofold project involved a choreographed light intervention, which revealed a simultaneous appearance and disappearance of light - for just one second.

The historical moment was chiefly celebrated with a unique light (or as the artist has coined non-light) event. In the early hours of July 1st, 2012, street lampposts in Bad Ems, Germany witnessed a split-second negation of light, as 218 lampposts became simultaneously switched off - for the mere split-second that the leap second came into being.

The artist also presented a bespoke numerical light sculpture which illuminated the additional UTC leap second, otherwise notated, 01h 59m 60s. This numerical form is rarely “visible”. Like a clock, it signaled and illuminated this rare addition of time.

A fleeting event that disappeared within but the blink of an eye, this single second non-(street)light orchestration wished to signal and question this ‘appearance’ of time.

“The city blinks.”

Clignoter in French means not only to blink, but also to flicker and or to flash (to signal). In this ephemeral moment, the artist proposes that Bad Ems encounter a glimpse of non-time.

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