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Time’s Illusion: Stories In Sound

-by Keith Lehman (PA) 10/17/17

When I was first hired as Creative Leader and WatchNews Editor for the NAWCC, I decided to experience the National Watch & Clock Museum purely as sound. On a quiet Monday morning, alone with my trusty handheld microphone, I slowly meandered through the halls and exhibits of the Museum, trying to capture something that cannot be seen.


What struck me most from this experience was how silence bookends our journey through time. Mankind’s first horological observations were the cyclical nature of heaven and the earth. It wasn’t until we mastered the elements of wood, fire, metal, and machinery that the first ticks sounded the measure of time.


A strange thing happens halfway through the recording. As clocks evolve into watches, the sound of their ticking hearts drops so dramatically that to hear their beating, you must press your ear to them. This ceases entirely as digital and atomic timepieces hush the last whispers of their gear and spring-driven elders.


It’s difficult to determine the results of experiments like this might yield, so I reached out to my contacts in the local music community and connected them with the Museum. This led to Time’s Illusion: Stories In Sound, a collaboration with Lancaster, PA, electroacoustic new music group NakedEye Ensemble. Inspired by the Museum’s collection, founder and artistic director of the group, Ju-Ping Song, along with six other composers, will perform their unique interpretations of time. Time’s Illusion: Stories In Sound is scheduled for May 2018. It will be open to the public, live streamed, and recorded for the world to enjoy.


You may listen to my recording on SoundCloud titled The Sounds and Silence of the Museum of Time.


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