I've had the pleasure of attending a couple of events at COMPAS, including the launch of their scoping study on Migration, Time and Temporalities, and so was delighted to be asked to contribute a short reflection on time to their new anthology on migration. An excerpt is below:
Watching the sweeping second hand of the clock, a certain kind of time appears. Smooth, continuous, seemingly inevitable. The clock’s face promises much, yet it reveals little of the work involved in producing time. Look more closely and one is forced to confront time’s precarious materiality. In a classic analogue clock, a quartz crystal, shaped into a small tuning fork, creates countable oscillations used to distinguish ‘before’ from ‘after’. Chosen because of their low response to changes in temperature, quartz crystals are laser-cut and set to vibrate at a frequency of 32,768Hz – such seeming precision, but even so, this material configuration represents a compromise between accuracy and cost. Half a second is lost or stolen from every day. Yet even this is still not precise, it is only an average. Each day brings its own variability – the material chosen because of its lack of ability to respond still responds, after all.