Atlantean Timepiece is a proposed public artwork, presented as an architectural model, sound recording, and accompanying publication. It was commissioned for UNIT/PITT Projectsʼ What Future series in 2013.
Influenced by widespread concerns surrounding rising ocean levels, geological instability, earthquakes, and flooding in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Atlantean Timepiece imagines the future sunken city through the lens of an identification/ misidentification with the Atlantis narrative, and the trope of the romantic ruin.
The project proposes a monumental public artwork for Vancouverʼs developed waterfront, resembling a beacon, crystal, or glass condominium tower. Housed on an artificial island, Atlantean Timepiece is a mineral-based clock that activates after inundation by seawater, and registers the subsequent passage of time. Once underwater, the structureʼs materials are designed to transform in a series of dateable reactions, giving potential observers in the distant future a window into the elapsed time since the city's submersion.
Prior to flooding, the public sculpture would function as a tenuous monument to this potential event, acting as a site for the crystallization of local anxieties, and linking past, present, and future as imagined spaces and times.
In the gallery, Atlantean Timepieceʼs presentation model is accompanied by a commercially available ocean waves relaxation sound recording, played softly on speakers underneath it. A nearby artist's book provides additional context through intersecting and competing excerpts from fiction, non-fiction and unverifiable sources. Disparate subjects include glass architecture, crystallography and Vancouverism; artificial islands and land reclamation; the Atlantis myth, psychic readings and imagined time; and seismic activity, sea-level rise and global warming. Layered together, the result is a shifting reflection on this city and its relations to glass, water, and time.