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Design

The Sundial of the Future Defies Conventions

Alisa Goikhman's shell-like 'Greenwich Globe' crosses time zones with its spiked configuration.

Anya Tchoupakov

Images courtesy the artist

Time is a difficult concept for anyone to grasp, let alone measure, and so we often have to find ways to talk about it in relation to physical space—“Put the past behind you”; “the future lies ahead.” At Digital Class at UdK, artist Alisa Goikhman has taken that to heart and created The Greenwich Globe, an object that represents accurate time zones and doubles as a sundial. “While rotating at the speed of earth,” she explains, “each spike in the shadow shows the local time at a corresponding geographical region.”

It was built using an algorithm that represented each additional hour from GMT with a constant degree of elevation and a 15˚ angle bend, making the concept of time on earth easier to read both in the globe itself and the shadow it casts.Time zones were invented in order to unify the time-keeping strategies of the world in a clear and universal way, something that became more and more important with faster modes of travel, such as railways. Before that, each region kept time based on their own position to the sun, so “in reality this artificial division [by time zones] is strongly influenced by political and economical forces. This means that some countries share a time zone with their business partners and allies rather than their neighbors.”

Due to this deformation, there is almost no place on earth that follows its correct time zone based on the sun. The Greenwich Globe project thus “contemplates what shape our earth would take if our understanding of local time was reflected in its topography." 

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See more of Alisa Goikhman's work on her website.

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