The beat pulsating from the sonic sculpture True Time Master (2019-2020) through the whole of the exhibition is from the Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC). The CSAC is a miniaturised realisation of the highly accurate atomic clock that was developed by the US Defense Department’s infamous DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for use in satellites, military drones, shipping, data centres and for telecommunication. This precise global time is the standard that controls our modern life, from digital computing and communications to financial activities that are faster than the operation of human consciousness. It is a clock without a face or a sound. Using the clock’s frequency, Pattison has worked with a former technician from the Royal Observatory Museums in Greenwich to make it audible through a Chinese counterfeit McIntosh MC275. The MC275 is an amplifier synonymous with US technological and cultural power in the 1960s; its uncanny reproduction evokes the current anxieties surrounding Chinese geopolitical dominance and technology (for example, 5G)*. These newly translated sounds are further amplified throughout the gallery by a series of PIR insulation panels. These are fitted with transducers also acting as visual ‘bounceboards’ to reflect the shimmering colours of the sunset.
The clocks in the works Dublin Mean Time (2020) and True Time Master (2019-2020) exist in different tenses. While the Millennium Clock referenced in the former was the digitisation of a countdown clock as a projection of the past into the future, the CSAC only exists in the present. Its now audible beat exposes the idea of “true” time passing, and with it the computer and the internet as the new engines driving this forward. True Time Master (2019-2020) makes perceptible the links between global navigation, military conquest, extraction of natural resources, finance and trade. The CSAC is a direct descendant of the ships’ clock which drove the first wave of European conquest, True Time Master (2019-2020) is an exercise in exposing the colonial ties of everyday time-keeping.
- These counterfeits (of normally US manufactured amplifiers, once accessible, but now considered luxury items that appeal to American baby boomers’ nostalgia) are aimed at the middle-class Chinese domestic market.