Cory Doctorow posted a link on Boing Boing today -- his post was titled "Crononauta: stylized photos of Brazil's abandoned public clocks." It's about a beautiful series by Diego Kuffer, whose work can be seen here. I couldn't find any English information about it, except the bit Doctorow quoted, so here's that:
Brazilian artist Diego Kuffer writes, " I have a new series of photos called 'Chrononaut'. It's about how experience shapes the way we perceive the world and reality. Also, it pictures public clocks in Sao Paulo that are abandoned, because it isn't allowed anymore to post ads in public spaces, as part of a law that forbids this kind of visual pollution."
I love the idea of public digital clocks. They suggest a sort of unifying inevitability that I find really surreal and compelling. If I were designing a city, I'd put digital clocks all over the place -- the ability to sync up the time, everywhere in the city, rather than leaving everyone in the place to rely on their own, disconnected, uncertain devices, commands the power to suggest that, even in the digital, abstract space, in the city everyone is sharing the same world.
It's also less Orwellian than some of the other icons of government presence everywhere. CCTV cameras or police are terrifyingly oppressive. Ads everywhere can be even more isolating. People recede into their own bubbles, their own attention avenues, scanning over the ads that aren't targeted to them and being sucked into the reinforcement cycles of inferiority that the ones that do are designed to create. (I love that, apparently, Sao Paulo has laws against public ads -- especially, that they call it "Visual pollution.")
The fact that they display the time also resists the sense that the government is controlling reality by fiat. They may be distributing it, but a government wouldn't be in charge of the public clocks. Everyone is subservient to the time, and no amount of money or power can put you above that.