Kio Griffith – Pyramid Standard Time at soundpedro

six wall clocks
Kio Griffith - 'Pyramid Standard Time'

soundpedro (preferred lowercase spelling) is a sprawling sound art event on the grounds of the Angels Gate Cultural Center. The area is covered in the ruins from its military past, a landscape of rusted steel, weathered concrete, and wild California plants. It is full of hidden spaces that give the sound artists the freedom to create their works.

One of the works in this year’s soundpedro might have easily been missed as it was an understated piece, installed in an old guard booth off the main path. Passersby would have noticed six wall clocks arranged in a pyramid shape inside the booth. The wonder of this piece is only revealed when we get very close, too close to even see the clocks clearly. We have to turn our head, move an ear up close, and there it is, a layering of familiar sounds that produces a hypnotic effect.

As someone who can’t sleep when there’s a ticking clock in the room, I was surprised to find that the sound of six ticking clocks was very soothing. Six clocks, slightly out of sync, create a rhythm that’s too complex to be perceived as regular, and so, feels closer to white noise, than the torturous sound of a single tick, tick, tick. This piece, elegant in its simplicity, conjures up romances of lovers, but in this case, six lovers, in different time zones, whose hearts beat out of sync.

There is a curious phenomenon of pendulum clocks that are hung on the same wall eventually syncing up because each clock’s movement sends vibrations that affect the other clocks’ movements. Our hope for the story of these six lovers is that if they stay together long enough, their hearts will eventually beat in unison, but this hope will probably never be realized because of quartz technology. Like a dream, the rhythm of Kio Griffith’s “Pyramid Standard Time” will forever be just out of our grasp.