Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sundials, clocks, time passing, always...

What is this blog about? In a nutshell, it's about black and white darkroom photomontage. Every few weeks, a new image with a few words about it, kinda poetic, philosophical. 
For more details - check out the archive, the first post, April 26, 2015.
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Is this blog going off the rails? This time it is veering from the simple premise "it's about black and white darkroom photomontage. Every few weeks, a new image with a few words about it, kinda poetic, philosophical." 
This time round, i have to break to 'keeping it short/ just a few words about it' thing, the topic is just too large.
So far, what i've posted on this blog are darkroom montage images. Time for a curve ball - i do digital montage too.
Al lot of my photog friends thought i might ditch the darkroom and go completely digital. No way, no how. They are two completely different beasts - what you can do with one you can't do with the other, and vice versa. My Beseler 45MXII will always have home in my bathroom/ aka 'guerilla darkroom'.
Clocks and sundials have been an interest of mine for a long time. The boarding school i went to had a large chapel at it's center with a bell tower that rang out the time, every quarter hour. 

It rang out five notes for every 15 minutes, adding another 5 every 15 minutes, culminating with a long deep sonorous tolling of the hour, at the top of the hour. Wherever you were on campus you could hear it. It was a fixture in my life for six years. Time has also been a topic/focus of mine for many years in images.

Here's a digital image that has a darkroom father, and a grandfather, so to speak.

In this image, time is slip, slip, slippin' away - 
the sand will be washed, tumbled, reconfigured with the next high tide.

The motto for this one could be:
Tempus edax rerum. (Time devours things.)
We'll get to the father and grandfather in following posts, more on mottos below.

A song lyric comes to mind, (it says everything much better than i can) by the late great Warren Zevon:
"Time marches on, time stands still,
Time on my hands, time to kill..
Blood on my hands and my hands in the till 
Down at the 7-11
Gentle rain falls on me, and all life falls back into the sea....
we contemplate eternity beneath the vast indifference of heaven..."

RIP Warren Z.
One of the most simple and raw time devices is an hourglass.

More than a few words about sundials:

(I was tempted to remove all the links, but, no - never mind - i would be limiting your freedom of choice - bad idea. 'click as you wish, learn more, better - 'feed your head' as the lyric in a Jefferson Airplane song goes.)
"A sundial is a device that tells the time of day by the apparent position of the Sun in the sky. In the narrowest sense of the word it consists of a flat plate (the dial) and a gnomon which casts a shadow onto the dial. As the sun appears to move across the sky, the shadow aligns with different hour-lines which are marked on the dial to indicate the time of day. The style is the time-telling edge of the gnomon, though a single point or nodus may be used. The gnomon casts a broad shadow; the shadow of the style shows the time. The gnomon may be a rod, a wire or an elaborately decorated metal casting. The style must be parallel to the axis of the Earth's rotation for the sundial to be accurate throughout the year. The style's angle from horizontal is equal to the sundial's geographical latitude."

(the link works, even though the spelling of 'mottos' is wrong. At least in America.)
Here's the sundial i photographed in Golden gate park, went in to the image above:

On the GGPk sundial: 'Horam sole nolente nego'

Google to the rescue!
"Known as the "Navigators' Dial", this sundial is dedicated to three early explorers of the California coast. The dial itself is a sliced bronze globe of the earth sitting on the back of a tortoise. Overall, the globe hemisphere is about 2 1/2 feet in diameter, showing the world in relief centered on California. The flat face of the hemisphere is a beautiful vertical reclining dial. The dial sits atop a stone column."

There is however no translation of this motto.
'horam' probably translates as 'hour' of some sort. 'sole' could be sun?... the rest, i'm lost for.

Many sundials bear a motto to reflect the sentiments of its maker or owner.
English mottos:
  • Be as true to each other as this dial is to the sun.
  • Begone about Thy business.
  • Come along and grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
  • Hours fly, Flowers die. New days, New ways, Pass by. Love stays.
  • I only tell of sunny hours.
  • Let others tell of storms and showers, I tell of sunny morning hours.
  • Life is but a shadow: the shadow of a bird on the wing.
  • Self-dependent power can time defy, as rocks resist the billows and the sky.
  • Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.
  • Latin:
  • Altera pars otio, pars ista labori. (Devote this hour to work, another to leisure.)
  • Festina lente. (Make haste, but slowly.)
  • [Fugit hora] – carpe diem. ([The hour flees] – seize the day.)
  • Utere, non numera. (Use the hours, don't count them.)
  • Utere non reditura. (Use the hour, it will not come again.)
  • Transience
  • Tempus edax rerum. (Time devours things.)
  • Tempus vincit omnia. (Time conquers everything.)
  • Vidi nihil permanere sub sole. (I have seen that nothing under the sun endures).

And that's just the beginning - click on the wikipedia page link above to learn more.

Here's a few pix of something very, very nice my step-mom sent me after my father died - an old (made circa1900) pocket watch. All the intricate innards spin and hum, all counter balancing each other, to keep the wheels (and display of time, the hands ticking by).

A better look at the inside gears, wheels, whatever:

This watch was definitely treasured, and well worn. The wear and tear on the back attests to that.
Has this desire for fine time pieces diminished? No way, no how.

Open up many magazines ( no, not 'people' or 'insider news' real magazines like the Atlantic or The New Yorker), within a few pages you'll see an ad for a rolex, or some other chronographic marvel. It's not just about getting to the bus stop on time, it's also about the design, the open face, so you can see all those wheels and gears spinning, and that anyone who spots it on your wrist will be impressed.

Ancient cultures kept track of time too. Mayans, aztecs, Chaco canyon/anasazi culture, greeks, the list is long. In many ways, marvelously creative - from Stonehenge to an hourglass.

Does anyone reading this not have a small clock/radio/alarm at their bedside, to rouse themselves to make that morning java? OK, maybe you just figure the dog will wake you up.
No *dawg* here, just, at 6 AM, all news, every topic on the tens.
There we go again - time! - every topic refreshed...on the tens'!
Come back for more - i have many watches to show you!

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