Anne Strainchamps [00:00:00] Why couldn't we just invent a new way of keeping time?
AS [00:00:04] My way that would let us get to meetings on time, but still keep us anchored to that larger universe.
AS [00:00:11] Well, in England, Laura Williams is building a gigantic tidal moon clock on the banks of the Thames. It's called Luna.
AS [00:00:19] It's designed to be bigger than Stonehenge. And William says that like Stonehenge, it's intended to be a link between us and the cosmos.
Laura Williams [00:00:29] The way we represent time in modern culture is its clock time, and it's a second or a fraction of a second. And what we've been doing is chopping these seconds up more and more until there instance and we can't keep up anymore. Our feelings can't keep up anymore. Time isn't related to human emotion anymore or to time for celebrations. Time for winding down. Time for dark. Time for light.
AS [00:00:56] You've created a kind of machine time or technologically. But it's now much so. And it's it's too much for our bodies and our our psyches. Yeah.
LW [00:01:06] And, you know, I see time as very much the same thing as culture now. If time is shallow and flat and fragmented and linear and completely disconnected from past and future, the tick tock of the clock is now, now, now very arbitrary.
AS [00:01:24] At what point did you get the idea that one possible corrective to this modern time sectors might be a gigantic tidal powered moon clock?
LW [00:01:33] In terms of getting from there to the moon, at the same time that I was looking at this notion of time and also at how I was feeling in the city, I was feeling very disconnected and rarely like often I wasn't in the right rhythm with clock time. A very dear friend of mine called El Davidson Daniel. He has since passed away, and he said, Our Loro, whenever you feel lost or disconnected, pay attention to the moon. It will teach you everything you need to know.
LW [00:02:04] And then what happened at the same time was ran up to the solar eclipse here in Cornwall, and everyone went nuts about it. And we have very of pagan roots and Celtic roots and was very connected to the moon and sun. And we went down to Cornwall and despite it being cloudy, it was really profound, the effect the eclipse had on us. And there was a few families and no one really knew each other. But after the eclipse happened, everyone very quietly went up to each other and introduced themselves. And we ended up having a big barbecue. And the most profound thing was that you had this feeling of belonging and this sense of where you were in the universe.
AS [00:02:49] As though this other this other clock time is just a thin veneer we've kind of laid on top of something much older and deeper that we all kind of intuitively know.
LW [00:02:58] Yes. And very much like the sort of thin veneer we put on our faces.
AS [00:03:02] I think when you tell me about Aluna itself, I mean, what will it look like? It's not constructed yet, but there are some beautiful plans you've designed.
LW [00:03:11] What it looks like it's actually three rings that come from the same original dish. When I designed it, I designed a kind of dish and then I separated it into these three concentric rings. What I first started doing when I started to research the moon, I realized there was an awful lot of different time cycles within moon time. In the sun's time, there's only really the one. But the moon meanders round our planet over a 19 year cycle. And I had to decide what cycles I was going to represent. I knew the lunar phase was one of them. And then when I was trying to understand the moon and where it is in relation to us, I was looking at the rise and set of the moon. And I was also looking at the ebb and flow of the tides. And I drew out the rise and set and the ebb and flow. And I realized that that was the fundamental rhythm of our planet. Was the lunar day, the rise and set of the moon and the tide. And there are actually two tides per lunar day. And this goes on continuously. And that maybe this was the very rhythm that we need to reconnect with. Seeing as where water based beings and also that we live on a water planet. So that was three time cycles. And first of all, I made an animation of light that came before the three dimensional form. And I then translated this animation of light into the form, which are these three rings. The biggest ring is the lunar phase ring, and the structure is actually steel clad in translucent curved glass. And underneath the glass hidden is a matrix of LCD and the animation of Moon Time called a lunar time gradually waxes around the biggest ring and then wanes back off again. So at New Moon it's completely dark, and at full moon it's a full circle. So when you're in this space, you're standing within a full circle of light and it's huge red.
AS [00:05:19] I see why people have called it a modern Stonehenge because it's so large. You stand inside it with these huge sweeping curves going up above.
LW [00:05:29] Yet it is very, very big. But it starts at human level on one side and then it rises up to the sky. The idea that you can really relate to it, that it's not overpowering and that it connects our planet and now ground level and the sky as well. And those are powered also serve to bring it full circle that this connection between the heavens and the earth, the light is completely powered by the tides. So by drawing energy from the tides, we're actually drawing the kinetic energy directly from the moon.
AS [00:06:05] So the whole clock is powered by the tide?
LW [00:06:08] Yes. Energy consumption is another aspect that reflects the moon cycle as well, because, you know, I mentioned the phase of the moon when the moon is new. It's completely off the biggest ring. So the whole sculpture is practically dark.
AS [00:06:25] So it's partly about orienting yourself more in terms of the universe rather than our own, just a manmade environment and reminding ourselves that we are. That hackneyed phrase, children of the universe. But what is the paying attention when you could do the same thing with the sun, I suppose? Just pay attention when the sun is. But for you, there's something very special about moon time.
LW [00:06:47] I bought a book with me just so I could read this quotation, it was. It's From The Ladder of Lights by William Gray and it's actually about the Kabbalah. But this is a very interesting thing about the moon. And I think one of the reasons why we seem to relate to the moon, everyone seems to love the moon, whether you're a staunch scientist or a raving hippie or whoever you astrologers and astronomers love the moon. And I think it's because the moon allows us to look at it without burning our eyes. So this is from this book. No one can look directly at the sun without risking blindness, but the moon can be seen clearly enough. Thus, it symbolizes equality of divine mercy in adapting the overpowering light of truth into more diffuse and softer rays which are human natures can comfortably bear. There's something about the moon being up there in the sky during nighttime as well and time when we tend to be a bit more contemplative. And then on the cultural side as well, looking at all the different cultures that the moon brings together, an after all, going back to time and culture being the same thing, I was very concerned about the barriers coming up between people. The moon is something that is common to all of us and Islam is completely lunar based in terms of all their festivals, in terms of the start of the month, the start of the year. When it's time to start Ramadan and to end Ramadan, people look for the first sighting of the crescent moon. So the first moon of the month in order to start this. Also, Judaism has the moon in its timekeeping, as does Buddhism. And and it goes on and on and on. Really?
AS [00:08:51] That's Laura Williams. Elena is under construction at London's Docklands. When completed, it will be the world's first tidal powered clock.