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Script for the official video behind "Hora Virtum" - Patrick Hurst
“We live in divisive times. Brexit, Anti Vaxxers, Flat Earthers, climate change...alternative facts. So, the driving force behind this work is to try and seek out that common ground between us and to make an object that is as widely agreeable as possible. I wanted to try to produce an object whose formal and conceptual considerations were taken from as many universally accepted facts and points of view I could.
At the beginning I didn’t know how I would you go about doing this. I knew that I wanted to make an object rather than an image because an image can be too easily swayed by cultural aesthetics. So, being a three dimensional object, two basic things had to be considered.
Form and size.
Even in the 21st century, there are still multiple units of measure used around the world. Imperial and Metric. Which should I use and why? I found through my research that, historically, the yard and its imperial denominations were defined by the ever-changing dimensions of body parts of the Monarchs of the time. It was the French Academy of Sciences that made the decision to define a single unit of measurement from a universal constant rather than the vanity of man. They decided that the meter would be one ten millionth the distance from the north pole to the equator. And So, by that marker the sculpture would be defined metrically.
The form came about in two parts. Firstly, I needed to choose a symbol that represented something that everyone experiences. Secondly, That symbol needed to assembled in a way that was unbiased and globally accepted. I figured these to be time and mathematics. Time. Everyone has their own subjective experience of time: “this week has flown by” or “today is dragging on” in physics the speed of time is relative but it moves in a single direction. Historically, the water clock, the hourglass and the sundial were the earliest instruments to record the progression of time. All of which consist of a large source that acts as the measure. A proportionately smaller instrument that interprets or controls said measure. Finally, a visual outcome that dictates the progression of time. And so, I settled on the Hourglass profile.
Mathematics. Numbers don’t lie but I needed a visual interpretation of this. Luckily such a thing exists. Euclidian Geometry. The visual means to explain complex mathematical concepts. Developed by Pythagoras, recorded by Euclid almost two and half thousand years ago and still in use today. The form of this work was entirely composed using the simple geometric principles based on a single 5 cm radius.
But why five centimetres? The 5 pillars of Islam, the 5 commandments of Buddha, In Taoism the 5 elements, The 5 books of the Torah, the 5 wounds of Christ, the 5 sacred symbols of Sikhism. On the theme of universal agreement 5 quickly revealed itself to have been a significant number throughout the world.
I decided to turn the sculpture, on a computer-controlled lathe, out of a special material called Duplex. This was for a number of reasons, Duplex is a form of stainless steel that has a slightly different composition that lends itself to greater corrosion resistance. Meaning that, like geometry’s longstanding acceptance, the object will remain in its form and won’t degrade with the passing of time. Having the piece turned by a computer meant that firstly the form was the direct, indisputable record, of applying a spinning object to a fixed object. The cutting action being done by a computer, defined by the hourglass profile composed by Euclidian geometry, eliminated human error and any subjective preconceptions held by the engineer that may have been doing it.
Duplex, due to its high chromium content, allows for a very bright and mirror polish to be achieved. I wanted the piece to polished, not because it’s a fashionable finish in the current art world, but because it lends itself to a more human perception of time. The way we’ve compartmentalised time means that these units repeat; days, weeks, months, years, lunar cycles, seasons and the compound curves that are mirror polished repeat the images on the surface.
The title was a difficult one to work out because Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, so at first thought the title should have been rooted there. So, why title the piece in Latin? Latin, unlike Mandarin, is the root of Romantic languages. Which, when combined, are the most widespread languages on the planet at almost 17% of the worlds population spoken on basically every continent. Unlike Mandarin and Hindi, which are the two highest non Latinate languages on the list, that are largely geographically focused to their countries of origin. Using Latin and a reference to the early attempts at the quantification of time, ‘Hora Vitrum’ simply means hourglass.”
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