Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Tobie Langel_Helvetictoc_Lumiere Festival, Durham_November

Tobie Langel’s installation Helvetictoc at this year’s Lumiere Festival in Durham was described by the Guardian writer Maev Kennedy as “a pedantic wordy clock” but it was also a witty tribute and a love letter to the Helvetica typeface, an icon of the 20th century. Among 40 other artists, lighting designers and community groups, Helvetictoc was one of the light installations which transformed Durham into a city of light for four nights. Langel, a Swiss software engineer and jazz musician, created a humorous take on the humanisation of digital user interfaces and the perception of time, but on the other hand by forcing the viewer to read time in words rather than reading it from a clock face, he pushes us to pause and "feel" and reflect upon time. The randomly generated sentences, the tone and the relative imprecision remind us of long-lost interactions with strangers when asking someone for the time was a much more common ice-breaker.

 

The “wordy” clock can also be viewed and appreciated online at www.helvetictoc.com.