Yael Kanarek
Swing, 2011
Computational video (color, sound), custom software, computer
12 hour, loop
Display dimensions variable

In the piece Swing, a digital clock is used as the compositional device. The work runs live on a computer and is played by software that syncs video and audio with the computer’s internal clock. Thus, actual time is represented by the audiovisual experience on-screen.

From the 16th Century until the 1930s, the most accurate time-keeping technology was the pendulum. Now obsolete, the pendulum is alluded to with the swinging gesture of a child named Yoav. For he and the other children, time is digital and about counting numbers. In Swing, they take upon themselves the role of timekeeping. At the 23rd minute of the hour, for example, which is the same around the world, his brother, Nadav announces that Yoav has been swinging continuously for 23 minutes.

Every hour, the two brothers and their friends discuss the scarcity of water in Israel and the lack of peace with Syria. Aged between 6 and 8 years old, their simple conversations voice international concerns and national anxieties. “If there’s no more water in the Sea of Galilee, we’re doomed,” says one child. “Right. We’ll die. It’s not like other countries will do us a favor and serve us and say ‘Hey, let’s bring them icebergs from Antarctica’,” says the other. Using sound as the primary punctuation of time, seconds are indicated by dripping water, as are the strikes at the top of an hour.

Swing is messy like child’s play. It proposes form and repeatedly breaks it, starting again. Breaking a fourth wall, the artist herself interferes in the frame, cameras are adjusted abruptly, and family members discuss the film production. Powerfully blurring the roles of community, political and environmental life, Kanarek’s constantly ticking clock articulates a myriad of relationships that underlie our experience of the present moment.

Software designed by Yael Kanarek and Shawn Lawson.

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