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In Real Time

Dutch-designer Maarten Baas has expanded his Real Time series to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.


August 16th, 2016


Rob Hodselmans

Dutch designer Maarten Baas is fascinated by the passing of time and how, as humans, we experience the time unfolding – particularly the way in which clocks mark something as malleable as temporal perception. In 2009, he created the first installation of his Real Time series during Salone del Mobile in Milan. The new clock designs were a mediation on time that combined theatre performance, art, film and design to create a series of new clock designs. Since then, he has added to the series with an iPhone app and several special commissions. Earlier this year, he realised the latest iteration of Real Time at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport with a huge timepiece that is actually a 12-hour video of the Baas painting and erasing the clock’s hands in real time.

“Time is somehow an intricate part of my work,” says Baas. “I take inspiration from it, travel through time by going back and forth between my childhood and the present and I’m fascinated by people’s reaction to time, the passing of time. Time becomes a hyper realistic and almost physical sensation when you start filming in real time. I wanted to use that concept in my Real Time clocks, and that is how it also ended up in my Schiphol Clock.”

The earlier iterations of Real Time included The Sweepers, in which two handymen swept trash into the shape of clock hands indicating the time for 12 hours; and the Analog Clock film, in which the interface of a standard digital clock was manually painted and erased. The new Real Time clock, located in Lounge 2 of Schiphol Airport, is an extension on this concept, with Baas himself filmed painting and erasing the hands of a standard analog clock. The blue overalls, yellow rag and red bucket featured in the film pay homage to the colour palette of Dutch artist Mondrian. The artwork is intended to present travelers with a new representation of the Netherlands, rather than the stereotypical associations, such as clogs, tulips and windmills.

Baas took inspiration for the installation from an airport instructional video, in which a presenter held up instructions on small signs. “[The signs reminded me of] picking someone up at the airport,” says the designer. “And, time and travelling are almost synonymous. This is what gave me a sense of direction for Real Time in the first place.”

Visitors to the airport are encouraged to share their reactions to and experiences of Real Time in real time on social media, using the hashtags #MaartenBaas #RealTime #SchipholClock.

“I wanted to make a clock for Schiphol where you, when you watch closely, find all these subtle hints about the airport, the country and your own awareness of time,” says Baas. “And I think that has worked since people travelling through Schiphol can now spend some real time in Real Time by me.”

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