Artist/Engineer/Clockmaker Florian Schlumpf’s Deconstructed Time
by Nola Martin
Imagine a rejuvenated grandfather clock or a massive art installation coming to life with steady sounds and the rhythmic movement of a pendulum.
This poetic notion is the essence of the Time Machines (“Zeitmaschinen”) created by Swiss artist and engineer Florian Schlumpf. And they are mesmerizing.
I was originally introduced to Schlumpf’s Time Machines thanks to an exhibit at the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva. After meeting Schlumpf in person and viewing the oversized Wall Machine in the metal at the A.H.C.I. booth at Baselworld 2017, I became completely infatuated with his creative works.
And it is not all about time.
Schlumpf uses his art and engineering expertise to explore his philosophy of time. “I was always fascinated by machines that generate a rhythm,” he explained. “A rhythm without time does not exist. A simple pendulum is such a machine: it fascinates by its movement, by its gentle sound. The slower the rhythm, the more soothing its impact is on our emotions.”
As a result, Schlumpf’s Time Machines do not merely measure hours and minutes but present a personal introspective on the passing of time in a more mindful and meditative way. Hence, his first clock, the TM1, was built without hands, granting the observer an opportunity to appreciate and admire the purity of the mechanism and the passage of time without the worry of tracking the time itself.
TM1, TM2, TM3
The Time Machines celebrate the mechanical precision and sensory pleasure of a traditional clock in a purely artistic manner. The collection, which began with the TM1, has grown to include the TM2 and TM3. Each takes a new and innovative approach to timekeeping technology while a similar style transforms the traditional grandfather clock into a modern work of art.
Schlumpf’s range of work extends from the TM line to large installations including Wall Machines and Outdoor Machines and custom works of arts. The custom pieces have ranged from Four Quadrants, a larger-than-life installation showcased in the courtyard during Baselworld 2015, to the massive Monumental Clock with a gargantuan pendulum measuring 12 meters (approx. 40 feet) in length residing at Moscow’s famed Desky Mir mall.
Each variation exposes the inner workings of the clock mechanism, placing the motion of each gear, spring, and axle in the spotlight. In addition to their skeletonized appearances, the Time Machines are hand-finished in eye-catching color palettes of black, silver, copper, or gold, which enhance the modern architecture.
Whether standing on its own or hanging on a wall, each kinetic sculpture transforms a space both visually and audibly.
The statuesque TM2 model stands more than two meters tall (6.5 feet), elongated by a steel frame. This dominant vertical structure features a timing mechanism consisting of four pairs of gears and an escape wheel measuring an incredible 500 mm in diameter. The meditative swing of TM2’s pendulum remains in operation for an entire week.
TM3 also incorporates patent-pending anchor arms built with spring-loaded technology providing smooth, almost silent operation requiring minimal energy.
Due to its light aluminum structure and smaller size, the Kaspar (1.3 meters / 4.25 feet) and Johann models (1.8 meters / 6 feet) tall can both be mounted on a wall or displayed as standing art pieces.
Florian Schlumpf’s Wall Machine
A standout work for me in the Schlumpf line is the dynamic Wall Machine. Its grand size creates a dramatic visual into the universe of time by virtue of its size measuring approximately 2.1 x 2.2 meters (6.9 x 7.2 feet).
Its bold, black frame houses black and golden anodized gears complemented by a mirror-polished golden pendulum disk and hands. An anchor beam rotating around the central anchor wheel provides constant movement. Although the isochronal sounds of the clock are alluring, the escapement uses spring-like anchor pallets, which produce smooth, practically silent, transitions.
Each kinetic sculpture provides an opportunity to perceive time by more than just the marking of the hours, minutes, and seconds passing. A patient observer can digest unhurried intervals of time by focusing on the sound and motion of the animated clocks.
If you are feeling daring, you can opt for the purest expression of this concept with a Time Machine that offers no time indication at all, but allows its owner to relax to the endless ticks and tocks of time passing.
This kinetic exhibition of astounding Time Machines by Florian Schlumpf captivates all those fascinated by time.
Now I am off to find a fabulous new home with a wall large enough to hang one of the Wall Machines!
For more information, please visit www.zeitmaschinen.ch/en and/or www.madgallery.net/geneva/en/creators/florian-schlumpf-zeitmaschinen.
Quick Facts Florian Schlumpf Wall Machine
Wheels and pendulum: silver, gold ,or black anodized
Functions: seconds, minutes, hours; day of the week
Dimensions: 2.2 × 2.1 × 0.4 meters
Price: 53,500 Swiss francs (including 8 percent VAT)